Mitt Romney defended Chris Christie this weekend, saying his 2016 ambitions wouldn’t be hurt by the scandals.
Romney told the New Jersey governor “he must be frightening a lot of people because they’re giving it a lot of attention,” the former Republican nominee for president in 2012 told The Washington Post over the weekend.
Romney’s 2012 team considered Christie as a vice president, but according to Double Down, a book by Morning Joe regulars Mark Halperin and John Heileman, the campaign opted against him because of questions about an old defamation lawsuit from early in his career, his time as a lobbyist, and a handful of other potential blemishes.
Christie’s adminstration is now embroiled in scandal after top staffers shut down one of the most trafficked bridges in the country, all over apparent political retribution. Adding to the pressure on Christie, a New Jersey mayor came forward this weekend claiming that the Republican’s administration tried to withhold hurricane relief funds in exchange for approving a development project favored by the governor. Christie sharply denied the allegations on Saturday.
Still, the former Massachusetts governor defended Christie.
“I think Chris has handled this in a very effective way,” he toldThe Washington Post. “A member of his administration did something that he was unaware of and that he found reprehensible. He faced the American people for two hours, took their questions. He dismissed people who were responsible. He took personal responsibility. That’s what a leader does.”
Some Republicans credited Obama’s late-in-the-game surge in 2012 to Christie’s literal and figurative embrace of the president during the superstorm Sandy recovery, helping the president to exude a true commander in chief persona just days before the national election.
And while Romney takes the high ground, one top member of Romney’s 2012 team wasn’t so nice.
“The guy, as a person, is horrific,” Brian Ballard, a top lobbyist and Romney’s former finance chair for his president bid, told the Miami Herald this weekend ahead of Christie’s fundraising event in Florida.
“Charlie Crist got a lot of grief for what was called a hug of Obama. But what Christie did to Obama isn’t suitable to say in a family newspaper,” Ballard told the Herald. “I firmly believe he helped swing that election in Obama’s favor just to help himself. I busted my ass for two years raising money and supporting Romney and this guy Christie just wiped his hands of us when we were no longer useful to him.”