After Chris Christie’s latest Hurricane Sandy-related misstep, don’t expect GOP bigwigs to be lining up behind any potential presidential bid in 2016.
First, there was Christie’s grinning, bear-hugging performance benefiting President Barack Obama at Mitt Romney’s expense. Though politics should cease when disaster strikes, it was particularly irksome to many on the Right that the Republican Christie seemed to go out of his way to call the Democrat Obama “outstanding,” “wonderful,” and “deserv[ing] great credit.” Occurring as it did in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, not a few politicos think Christie was not-so-subtly trying to shore-up his standing in a Blue State by hurting the GOP brand.
Now, Christie is back at it with his temper tantrum over the pork-laden Sandy relief bill that failed to pass the House before the 112th Congress ended. Blasting House Speaker John Boehner and others for essentially lying to him, Christie accused House Republicans of “selfishness and duplicity,” “palace intrigue,” and “callous indifference to the people of our state.”
But as the Heritage Foundation, the Weekly Standard, and others have noted, House Republicans didn’t vote against disaster relief; they voted against awarding more than double the amount of requested relief to areas and projects that have nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy.
Thanks to Senate Democrats and liberals at the Obama White House the Sandy relief bill included such spending priorities as $28 billion for future disaster-mitigation projects, $100 million to Head Start, and $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants. All of this and more is on top of the $20 billion scheduled to go to people and places actually impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
These non-Sandy-related giveaways were designed to get Red State senators to support the pork, but House members couldn’t swallow the bill after being served a bitter fiscal cliff deal. To compensate the real victims of Hurricane Sandy, Boehner has promised to consider and pass a series of relief measures as early as tomorrow; without the wasteful, unrelated spending, of course.
As Christie gears up for what may be a tough reelection as New Jersey’s governor this year, polls show that his praise for Obama and tough talk on Hurricane Sandy have boosted his approval ratings in his Democrat-heavy state. If all his high-profile Republican-bashing gets him reelected, it’s likely worth it for conservatives because of the fiscal reforms Christie is stewarding in the Garden State. But if Christie decides to take his show on the presidential circuit, don’t be surprised if he finds a chilly reception among those for whom a discerning eye on government spending is a virtue, not a vice.