Will Chris Christie’s Political Future Suffer for Praising President Obama?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has officially filed papers of his intention to run for re-election in 2013. The New Jersey’s governor’s race is going to be closely watched, since Christie’s potential future on the national stage has been fodder for discussion for months. Christie’s biggest rival may be Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has said he will announce his decision on whether to run by Christmas.

Not that anyone really doubted Christie would seek a second term. But the governor said this week he wants to stick around to see through the rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.

“I don’t want to leave now. We have a job to do,” Christie said at a press conference this week. “That job won’t be finished by next year and so that’s the other reason I wanted to reassure folks that for those of you who have been so kind and said so many wonderful things about the leadership that we provided. So many people have said to me over the last couple of weeks ‘don’t leave.’ So guess what? I’m not leaving.”

Thanks, in part, to his response to Superstorm Sandy, Christie has the highest approval ratings of any New Jersey governor – ever – in the history of the Quinnipiac Poll, with 72-21 percent. Even Democrats approve of Christie with a vote of 52 to 39 percent. And according to a poll released by that organization Wednesday, Garden State voters say 67-25 percent that Christie deserves re-election. In fact, he’s at least 18 points ahead of even the most formidable Democratic challenger, which would be Booker.

The approval ratings results by Quinnipiac also show that New Jersey voters approve 84-12 percent, including 69-28 percent among Republicans, of Christie’s praise for President Obama’s actions after Superstorm Sandy.

Here’s the thing about that pro-Obama praise Christie has been getting from all corners, including the media: What did people think his response would be?

Reports that the GOP was peeved that Christie embraced Obama during and after his visit to the Jersey Shore and is playing nice in order to get the Garden State back on its feet are so irritating. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, REPUBLICANS?!

For the record, I am NOT a GOP-hater by any means. What I am is an extremist-hater. Having covered politics for more than a decade, I’ve seen what the increasing polarization of Washington has led to – and that is, not much getting done for the American people. And it’s led to a slow bleed of constructive middle-of-the-road lawmakers who are, quite simply, sick of the partisan rancor.

I have liked many attributes of Christie from the beginning – from his no-holds-barred attitude to getting things done no matter what, to his lack of fear in facing down even the most vehement opponents (such as the teachers unions with his recent new merit pay policies).

Can one find fault with some of his policies and attributes? Absolutely – particularly if you’re a politician of the mindset that you need to publicly stick to the party line, no matter what your personal beliefs (how about that issue of abortion, eh?). But when it comes to his response to the president of the United States in trying to get as much support and as many resources as possible – whatever it takes – to bring back “Jersey Strong,” who can fault that?

Was Christie supposed to stay holed up in Trenton in spite when the president came to town to survey the damage? Instead, this is what he said just this week:

Any state leader with half a brain would, of course, be welcoming to the president of the United States when federal help is needed to get a state back on its feet. An attitude any less would be a severe disservice to constituents. Do Republicans think those left homeless by Sandy care that Christie – a leader in the Republican Party – went out of his way to show support for Obama and whatever efforts the leader of the free world can make to help New Jersey recover?

For a party trying to diffuse the idea that it’s completely out of touch with reality, kicking and screaming over Christie’s Obama love-fest is not helping matters.

In fact, from the polls mentioned above, Christie’s warm welcome of Obama is obviously paying off politically, for the governor, which, in turn, could help the Republican Party if more Americans think – and hope – that Christie could be one of a new generation of GOP’ers making their way into the national spotlight. Here’s hoping Christie brushes off these Republican temper tantrums. The American people know better when they see it.

Guest contributor Liza Porteus Viana is a journalist with more than 12 years of experience covering politics. She also covers business, intellectual property and homeland security for a number of media outlets, and is editor of genConnect.com. Like many other moms, she is always trying to find that oh-so-elusive work-life balance as a full-time freelancer with a toddler at home in New Jersey. She previously worked at FOXNews.com as a national and political correspondent, and National Journal as a technology policy writer in Washington, D.C., and her work has appeared in publications such as Worth Magazine, Portfolio, Politics Daily, The Huffington Post and Forward Magazine. Liza tweets at @lizapviana and is on Facebook. She also blogs at lizapviana.com.

Image via official site of the New Jersey Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen

  • http://WELLinTHIShouse.com Christina Gleason @ WELL, in THIS House

    The Republican echo chamber needs to wake up and smell the coffee – and not the pot of black sludge their 1950s secretaries used to brew at the office, but the gourmet K-cups the rest of the world brews for themselves at home today. They need to stop viewing politicking as a game to be won at all costs, because the American people want and NEED practical politics. It would have been irresponsible for Gov. Christie to be anything but as grateful and cooperative as he was to Pres. Obama after Sandy. He wouldn’t have been fulfilling his oathbound duties to his constituents if he had refused federal assistance in the wake of the disaster.

    If more Republicans were as practical (and dare I say, sane?) as Gov. Christie has been since Sandy, they wouldn’t be so terrifying as a whole. Indeed, the practical Republicans need to take back their party from the extremists, show the country that the Tea Party does NOT speak for the party as a whole, and that they are willing to put aside petty politic grudges to do right by the citizens who elected them.

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