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Romney campaign insiders: Christie was Romney's pick for VP

Chris Matthews compared Mitt Romney and Gov.

Chris Matthews compared Mitt Romney and Gov. Chris Christie's rocky relationship to a romance gone bad, based on a new report from Politico that claims the New Jersey governor was Romney's initial first choice as a running mate.

The article cites a "detailed inside account" that allegedly reveals that Romney changed his mind over the course of two weeks, and switched his choice from Gov. Christie to Rep. Paul Ryan despite Romney's initial interest in Christie's leadership style. But according to accounts from advisers who helped remove the possibility of the New Jersey governor appearing on the Republican ticket, Christie's attitude was unwelcome to the campaign:

Some aides around Romney began to sour on Christie when he was late to a couple of events where they were appearing together. “Chris is a sort of cavalier New York, New Jersey guy: ‘If I’m a few minutes behind, I’ll blame it on traffic,’” said a person who knows him well. “That’s just who he is.”The tardiness rankled the by-the-book folks around Romney. As the vice-presidential selection ramped up, Christie was always at the top of the list, but always with an asterisk.

Politico also reports that, after Ryan was chosen, Christie was bitter and made it known by delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention that irritated Romney advisers.

On Hardball Sunday night, Matthews spoke with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, who echoed Matthews' perspective on the "bad romance."

"They're painting Christie as some sort of jilted psycho girlfriend or boyfriend who got left at the altar, and that's why he's running into the arms of the other guy," Robinson said.

Former RNC chairman Michael Steele also weighed in, agreeing with both Matthews and Robinson that the Romney campaign was "absolutely" trying to find a scapegoat two days before the election in case they lose, and that Christie's praise for President Obama following Hurricane Sandy was their excuse.

"It's giving cover in case this election doesn't turn out," Steele said. "They can look at Christie and say, 'Well you stopped the governor's momentum with all this praise...' It's so disconnected from reality."

But on her show Sunday night, Rachel Maddow had a different theory: revenge.

She recalled a 2008 article published just weeks before the election that quoted conservative leaders speaking about Sarah Palin's future as a leader for the Republican Party if and when she and McCain lost the election.

Similar to that article was a recent AP story about Ryan's future post-election, assuming the vice presidential candidate would not be sitting in the White House in 2013.

Maddow said the reason Romney advisers spoke out about Christie being the real No. 1 choice was to get back at Ryan and his supporters who speculated about Ryan's future following the 2012 election, which they appear to assume he and Romney will lose. The scapegoat for a Romney-Ryan loss, in this theory, would be Ryan himself.

Despite the Politico report as Election Day approaches, Christie dismissed conservatives who grumbled about his affiliation with the president, and reaffirmed his endorsement for Romney.