Chris Christie: A GOP Rebel With a Cause?

4 years ago

Is Chris Christie a rebel with a cause?

The New Jersey governor seems hell-bent on making an enemy of his own party.

The most recent fisticuffs with House Speaker John Boehner over a delayed vote on a $60 billion superstorm Sandy recovery bill certainly raised the GOP ire.

Here's just a sample of his acerbic sound bites:

"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner."

"66 days and counting. Shame on you. Shame on Congress."

"Unlike people in Congress, (governors) have actual responsibilities."

Of course, the vote wasn't nearly as simple as Christie would have the public believe.

The so-called Sandy bill was loaded up with pork.

Why let the truth get in the way?


Nov. 5, 2012 - Keansburg, NJ, USA - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie holds a press conference outside the Joseph Bolger Middle School in Keansburg, New Jersey, where he spoke to residents Monday, November 5, 2012, a week after Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey. (Credit Image: © Clem Murray/MCT/

Christie's latest insults comes on the heels of his drive-by sideswiping of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

The Huffington Post reported that Christie, one of Romney's surrogates, rejected a post-Sandy invite to a campaign rally just two days before the election.

The governor explained to the media that he and Romney remained on solid footing, but that it was the "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."

No matter. Christie's style hits a certain sweet spot in the public psyche that the public eats up, for now.

And while Christie rides high, Congress's approval ratings are in the toilet, at a laughable 12 percent with the GOP's brand not much better.

Boehner narrowly won reelection this week as House Speaker during a mini-rebellion -- with his vote getting split when nine Republicans supported other candidates. Still, the Ohio representative eked out 220 votes over House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's 192, the closest vote since Gingrich was reelected speaker in 1997.

With such strife in D.C., could a bombastic blowhard secure the presidential nomination in 2016 in what's sure to be a packed GOP field, and whip these House members into shape?

Though not nearly as verbally outrageous, Sen. John McCain learned the hard way that elephants have long memories.

When it appeared the "Straight-Talk Express" candidate secured the nomination, National Review writer Michael Graham could not manage to swallow the jagged truth pill.

"So it is over. Finished. In November, we'll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate to take on Hillary Clinton -- perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy. And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism."

Like McCain, Christie's pitched his brand as being the anti-Republican Republican.

Clearly, he wants himself seen as a likeable guy willing to face liberal criticism on The Daily Show and poke fun of himself on Saturday Night Live to reach those blue dog Democrats, independents, and younger voters through pop culture.

That makes for a winning general election strategy, but first, he must overcome a flurry of primary candidates.

Primaries push candidates into corners. For Christie, appearing the most "Republican" would force him to shed the image he's so carefully constructing.

People like Christie believe nice guys finish last.

If he's right, then he'll usher in a new era of the GOP.

~ Follow Erica Holloway @erica_holloway.

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