New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will welcome President Barack Obama to his state today as the two will tour damage of Superstorm Sandy and speak with affected residents — a move that is already beginning to cause political backlash for Christie.Undoubtedly, the tour will present both figures with a rare bipartisan photo op — good for Obama in the final week of a presidential campaign, and good for Christie, who has been a heavily speculated-about name for higher political offices in 2016.
Nevertheless, New Jersey just experienced the most devastating storm to pass through its state in a significant amount of time — perhaps ever. But Christie’s praise of the president’s handling of the situation over the past few days — and now his welcoming of Obama to New Jersey — has caused conservatives like The Daily Caller’s Matt K. Lewis to speculate what he’s “up to” and if it does, at all, have any political implications.
Conservatives’ disgruntled attention focuses on Christie’s hailing of the president’s response to the storm this week, such as when he said Obama has been “all over this and deserves great credit.” It directly undermines Republican attacks on the perception of Obama as a weak leader.
Lewis thinks there could be some kind of rift between Mitt Romney and Christie:
Based on his past support for Romney, it seems inconsistent that — with just six days to go before Election Day — Christie would now suddenly downplay the importance of the presidential election, and help bolster Obama’s re-election chances.
So what’s up? Is Christie angry he was passed over for vice president? Has he resigned himself to Romney’s defeat? Or is something else afoot?
At some level, my guess is there must have been a Christie/Romney schism. Anything else seems implausible.
Meanwhile, The Drudge Report had this banner up for a while this morning, which hits Christie for giving Obama an opportunity to “campaign”:
Kuttner breaks down some speculation of why it could be a political move for Christie:
For Christie, who is up for re-election next year in a blue state, this caper accomplishes three things: It portrays him as a bipartisan; provides extensive publicity in service of his image as a good leader in a crisis; and hoses away Mitt Romney, the better to position Christie for a presidential run in 2016.
There is one other, plausible theory: That Christie is simply being Christie. The way he got emotional Tuesday night, it’s natural to assume that, even at this critical political time, Christie really just doesn’t “give a damn” about politics, as he alluded to on Tuesday.