Is this the case of a broken heart? And, if so, whose? The Huffington Post reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declined attending a Sunday campaign event for Republican Presidential nominee and his onetime best political best bud former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And from the quote from a Romney bigwig in the HP story, Team Romney is NOT happy:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was effusive in his praise of President Barack Obama when the two leaders toured damage from Hurricane Sandy last week, turned down a request by Mitt Romney to appear with him at a rally on Sunday night in Pennsylvania, The Huffington Post has learned.
Christie’s decision will only add to questions among Republicans about what the governor — who is up for reelection a year from now — is thinking, and why he went out of his way to heap praise on the president, and then refused to appear with Romney.
The Romney rally was held at a farm in Morrisville, Pa., not more than 20 minutes from Trenton, the New Jersey capital. The physical proximity of the event to New Jersey only added to questions in the Romney campaign about why Christie chose not to come.
“You can’t tell me he couldn’t have gone over there for a night rally,” a Romney campaign source told HuffPost.
Christie did, however, has had some more contact (telephone) with Obama since the storm and his official calls. Obama was playing Yenta the Matchmaker so Christie could talk to his longtime hero, singer and prominent New Jersey resident Bruce Springstein:
President Obama connected Bruce Springsteen and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a phone call from Air Force One Monday, TPM has confirmed. The New Jersey legend campaigned with the president in Wisconsin and Ohio on Monday.
There’s all kinds of speculation about what has gone on with Obama, Christie and Romney. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Christie seemed genuinely in a state of grief over what happened to his state and he welcomed Obama’s efforts.
2. Conservatives who started blasting him and demonizing him for cooperating with Obama like politicians for centuries of both parties have worked together in times of crisis made a big mistake. I’m sure it was not lost on him.
3. He may have concluded a)Romney is going to lose b)it’s easier for him to run in 2016 if there is no Republican in the White House.
4. Team Romney was clearly behind a piece in The Politico that was not entirely complimentary to Christie saying he had been Romney’s original first choice for V.P.
5. He may have been resentful about not being asked.
6. He TRULY has wanted to interact with Springstein.
7. He may shift that there is a hunger more than ever for many Americans to see people of both parties work together rather than constantly snipe at each other to score points.
8. Rupert Murdoch’s virtual threat to Christie may have caused the Governor to dig in his heels. “To you, buddy!”
It may be a story of two politically broken hearts.
UPDATE: A comment by a reader made me realize I left out the MOST IMPORTANT reason why Christie likely declined:
He made it VERY CLEAR after the Hurricane that was going to work on taking care of his constituents who were grappling with the tragedy, shock and destruction of the hurricane. Christie most likely was simply…being true to his word to stay away from the campaign and focus on his job. A talk with Springstein isn’t the same as attending a rally to elect Romney.
UPDATE II: A Christie campaign official denies they were asked — and Josh Marshall notes that the leak most likely came from a Romney camp official. Marshall writes:
But isn’t this borderline certifiable on the part of the Romney camp? Can you imagine the epic crapstorm Christie would have rightly gotten if he left the state in the middle of this catastrophe to go to Pennsylvania to attend a political rally?
It’s frankly such a crazy request that it shows just how deeply Romney’s been stung by Christie’s praise of President Obama.
Christie has been blasted also by Lou Dobbs and others on Fox. This is precisely the kind of demonizing attack politics that so many Americans hate. Who would have ever thought that Christie would be on the other end of it — and come out the one smelling like a rose, rather than like bunch of sour grapes?
It’s also puzzling. Clearly if you add this and The Politico piece about how Christie was REALLY Romney’s first Veep choice but he was discarded at the last minute — sometimes he was late, he didn’t take hints on his acceptance speech, etc. — it’s clear that the Romney camp has wanted to lash out just enough so their fingerprints would not be too evident to discredit Christie. You’d think that they would want every single Republican vote they could get — and Christie does have some Republicans who really like him.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post went on before it was intended to go on due to a technical glitch so it appeared in unfinished form in its earlier incarnations. We regret the problem.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.