New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has been under fire from conservatives for his effusive praise of Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy, telephoned the president after his election win but only sent an email to Mitt Romney, it was revealed today.
Chris Christie told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he had talked to Barack Obama.
“We didn’t have a political strategy discussion,” he said.
“I said, <<Congratulations on your win last night, Mr. President>>, he said, <<Thank you>>.”
Asked about whether he had spoken to Mitt Romney, Chris Christie said: “No. We exchanged emails last night. We haven’t spoken on the phone yet.”
Chris Christie, who is up for re-election in New Jersey next year and is a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is partly blamed by some senior Mitt Romney aides for the Republican nominee’s defeat.
They believe that his outspoken commendations of Barack Obama helped create an aura of bipartisan appeal that was invaluable.
Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s top strategist, has said that Mitt Romney was “winning this race by five or six points before Sandy” but “came out of Sandy one or two behind”.
Part of Mitt Romney’s post-Sandy drop was due to his being all but absent from the television screens for three to four days. But conservatives have been quick to condemn Chris Christie, a one-time vice-presidential possibility for Mitt Romney, for what they regard as a deliberate undermining of the former Massachusetts governor.
When Chris Christie was asked at the time by Fox News if Mitt Romney had any plans to visit New Jersey, he said: “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.”
In an opinion article entitled “Excommunicating Chris Christie”, Brett Decker of the Washington Times blasted Chris Christie as a moderate on guns, climate change and social issues and as being either “politically tone-deaf” or “purposely” trying to help Barack Obama.
“Mr. Christie handed Mr. Obama a big gift in the form of photo-ops, public hugs and gratuitously complimentary statements about the opposing party’s standard bearer.”
On Wednesday, Chris Christie appeared to be at pains to deny that he had been anything other than completely supportive of Mitt Romney.
“I wouldn’t call what I did an embrace of Barack Obama,” he said at a Wednesday press conference.
“I know that’s become the wording of it, but the fact of the matter is, you know, I’m a guy who tells the truth all the time.
“And if the president of the United States did something good, I was gonna say he did something good and give him credit for it.
“But it doesn’t take away for a minute the fact that I was the first governor to endorse Mitt Romney, that I travelled literally tens of thousands of miles for him, raised tens of millions of dollars for him and worked harder, I think, than any other surrogate in America other than Paul Ryan, who became his running mate.”
According to the Huffington Post, Chris Christie declined an invitation by Romney to an event in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, some three miles away across the Delaware river from Trenton, New Jersey’s capital, in the final week of the campaign.
While this was seen by some as a snub, the political downside of Chris Christie appearing at a political rally when many in New Jersey were still suffering extreme hardship after Hurricane Sandy would have made any appearance unlikely.
Responding to the story, Chris Christie lambasted the “know-nothing, disgruntled Romney staffers” who had made the accusation.
He added that he had told Mitt Romney before Hurricane Sandy hit that he would probably not be available for the rest of the campaign.
“I said to him, <<Listen, Mitt, if this storm hits the way I think it’s going to, I’m off the campaign trail from here to Election Day>>,” he recalled.
“And he said to me, <<Chris, of course. That’s what you have to do. Do your job. Don’t worry about me. I’ll take care of things>>.
“So all this other noise, I think, is coming from know-nothing, disgruntled Romney staffers who, you know, don’t like the fact that I said nice things about the president of the United States. Well, that’s too bad for them.”