This excerpt from the new Mark Halperin/John Heilemann book is being quoted as evidence that Chris Christie has a lot less political promise than most mainstream pundits would have you believe -- but in my opinion, what's being described is, by modern political standards, traffic-ticket stuff. Obama and Tony Rezko, Clinton and Whitewater -- in just about every real presidential contender's past there's the smoke of corruption, if not necessarily the fire. If Christie fails to win the 2016 Republican nomination, trust me, it won't be for any of this -- it's to:
The [Romney] vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record.... There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official -- and sought an exemption from New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act. There was Christie's decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing. There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race. Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor's brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making "hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged." (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.)Isn't it a bit odd that Christie was considered non-VP material for these reasons by Mitt Romney, who was not exactly forthcoming about his own financial affairs? The complaints about this from his campaign suggest to me that Romney didn't want to put another Romney on the ticket.
And this seems like an odd concern for Team Romney:
... all that was on top of a litany of glaring matters that sparked concern [including] the YouTube clips that helped make [Christie] a star but might call into doubt his presidential temperament....Yes, Christie was too nasty -- so we hear from the campaign that also said this:
Ted Newton ... had come into the vet liking Christie for his brashness and straight talk. Now, surveying the sum and substance of what the team was finding, Newton told his colleagues, If Christie had been in the nomination fight against us, we would have destroyed him -- he wouldn't be able to run for governor again.Remember, that's how Romney won the nomination: with a series of relentless attacks on anyone who stood between Romney and any primary victory. The Romney campaign fought nasty; these folks have a nerve accusing anyone else of nastiness
Though I suppose I could be looking at this the wrong way. The Romney campaign was vicious, but Romney himself tried to appear above the fray. Romney was a billionaire with a questionable business past and tax history, but he kept as much as possible concealed; by contrast, here was all this information about Christie that was right out in the open. Romney was filthy rich, but he never let you forget that he likes bargain shopping, as opposed to Christie, who liked the good life:
There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general's investigation of Christie's spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being "the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification" and for offering "insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification" for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons.So maybe you could say that Romney's problem with Christie was that Christie was precisely what Mitt Romney feared he would be if he let himself go or allowed people to see his true self: morally compromised, openly nasty, prone to self-indulgence. Even the sniggering about weight suggests that Romney loathed Christie for being the fat guy he feared he'd become if his discipline ever slackened:
Mitt also cared about fitness and was prone to poke fun at those who didn't. ("Oh, there’s your date for tonight," he would say to male members of his traveling crew when they spied a chunky lady on the street.) Romney marveled at Christie's girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, "Guys! Look at that!"Once again, here's Mitt Romney again being a bully in private while fretting that Chris Christie was unacceptable for being a bully in public. Yes, I'm sticking with mytheory that Christie was rejected because Mitt looked at him and didn't like what he saw of himself.