Chris Christie is about to renew his bromance with President Obama.
On Tuesday, the duo will tour areas of New Jersey hit by Hurricane Sandy, just as they did in the final days leading up to the 2012 presidential election. If Christie opts to run in 2016, there is no doubt that the photos snapped of him and Obama together will be seen in attack ads from his primary opponents.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says that Republicans remain frustrated with Christie. “We get a slew of e-mail and tweets from Republicans, basically saying, ‘forget hell,’” about Christie, he says. “They’re not going to forget nor forgive what Christie did at the end of the 2012 campaign. They’re just not.”
And in Iowa, Republicans are also frustrated with Christie’s decision to team up with Obama. “I think it is something they’re going to remember,” Craig Robinson, former political director of the state GOP and editor of The Iowa Republican, says.
At a recent event featuring Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, also a potential 2016 contender, Robinson says he heard two Iowa Republicans dismiss Christie as “just too liberal.”
New Hampshire GOP strategist Mike Dennehy agrees that Christie is risking alienating GOP-primary voters. “I think everyone understands in a crisis elected leaders getting together to view devastation,” Dennehy remarks. But, he says, Christie “just has to be careful about being seen as too cozy with a president who has been sticking his thumb in the eye of Republicans all across the country.” Toward near the end of 2016, he says, “Obama will be most disliked Democrat president Republicans have ever seen.” And the Republicans Christie is alienating are some of the most involved in the volunteering, fundraising, and organizing that is so crucial to win primaries in the early states.
Christie has been dismissive about these concerns, telling NBC last week that, “The fact of the matter is, he’s the president of the United States and he wants to come here and see the people of New Jersey. I’m the governor and I’ll be here to welcome him.”
While Christie is currently leading his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Barbara Buono, by over 30 points in the polls, he is running in a very blue state, notes Sabato. “He has to be careful,” he says. “It’s not as though it’s impossible for him to lose.”
“I think he’s wise to continue to reach out to Democrats and independents in New Jersey,” Sabato continues. “He needs them to get a second term.” And as far as 2016 goes, “he has no chance of going further without a second term,” the Virgina guru says.
But whether Christie can win back some conservatives he’s losing now by implementing conservative policies in his second term remains unknown.
Robinson, who’s seen firsthand plenty of GOP would-be presidential nominees face Iowa voters, is unsure. “The jury’s out on that,” he says.