Around 7:30 a.m., as an audience of technology executives started streaming through the ballroom doors of a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in suburban Virginia on Friday, Chris Christie’s iPhone buzzed with the grim news he has awaited for 16 months.
Federal charges were coming in the bizarre case of traffic and revenge with which he had become synonymous.
Mr. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, consulted with advisers, adjusted his jet-black suit and gamely walked onto a stage before 300 guests eating yogurt parfait and almond croissants. He recited statistics about Social Security and Medicare costs and projected the air of a man thoroughly unbothered by the swirling legal drama back in New Jersey, which he left unmentioned.
But behind the scenes, his aides, his allies and even his wife were mobilizing, working the phones and blasting out memos to supporters, trying to hold on to whatever chance Mr. Christie had to make a run at the presidency, according to interviews.
“Key messages,” the talking points read. “Today’s announcement reinforces what the governor has said since Day 1.” Mr. Christie, they said, “had no knowledge or involvement in the planning, motivation, authorization or execution of the decision to realign lanes on the George Washington Bridge.”
Using the “I had no idea what my staff was doing” excuse worked for Ronald Reagan in Iran/Contra, so that must be why the Republican governor of New Jersey thinks it will work for him now, even if he once tried to sell himself as the hands-on kinda guy America needs.
I never thought he had much of a chance even without the bridge story. He’s much too moderate for the fire-breathing true-believers of the GOP base; he signed a bill outlawing “ex-gay” therapy in the state and he was nice to Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy, and if those two points don’t set him at odds with the nutsery, nothing will.
Even with the bridge story and even if he did have knowledge of it, it’s not exactly the kind of thing that gets the base’s hearts fluttering. Exacting revenge from a Democratic mayor for failing to endorse him for re-election doesn’t fly in the flyover states. What True Republican would want the endorsement of someone from the libtards? If you want to hit the Democrats, you don’t block traffic; that’s way too subtle, and it hurts both Democrats and Republicans. You do like Scott Walker did: take on the public sectors unions and grind them into the ground, or you humiliate and degrade the poor with draconian rules on welfare, or deny them healthcare through Medicaid expansion.
That’s how you win the primaries, and without those, the road to the White House for Chris Christie is closed.