I’ve been thinking about it, and the Chris Christie bridge controversy really bothers me. Traffic on a bridge doesn’t sound like much in the world of political scandals, but this controversy causes me to question whether Christie has a team that is ready for the national stage in 2016.
The fact that the Governor’s personal staff was directly involved in slowing traffic on the George Washington Bridge, allegedly as political retribution for the Ft. Lee mayor’s refusal to endorse Christie’s re-election, re-enforces one of the biggest criticisms that I’ve heard about Gov. Christie. I have heard many times that some on his staff are heavy-handed bullies.
It’s no secret in political circles that his fundraisers act like aggressive bill collectors until donors succumb to their arm-twisting. There are other stories I’ve heard and read about his staff being pushy and aggressive in their dealings with others. That style doesn’t go over well in Iowa or New Hampshire – just ask Rudy Giuliani.
That narrative clearly undermines the best argument for Governor Christie’s potential national run in 2016. Chris Christie’s biggest strength is that people like him and trust him. He has an amazing ability to connect with voters on a personal level, and no other potential 2016 candidate comes close to that natural talent of his.
That ability to make an emotional connection with voters is how Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008, and that’s what it’s going to take to beat her in 2016. That’s why I think at this point, Christie is the Republican who has the best chance of winning the White House in 2016.
Christie’s staff can’t continue to piss on his best asset. He has to make changes. He has to show that thuggish behavior has no place in his office. AND he needs to get some new people on his team.
It would be a good idea for him to hire a few folks from outside of New Jersey – some people with better manners. Hiring a kinder, gentler staff would go a long way in advancing Chris Christie’s future political aspirations.
***UPDATE – 1 pm ET***
I think that Governor Christie was very impressive in his news conference addressing the controversy. He is saying and doing the right things in reaction to hearing about the actions of his staff. I hope that he goes further and makes the changes in his operation that will be necessary if he wants to be a contender in 2016.