New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still a favorite in presidential polls, but the popular politician is already being singled out by Democrats and in the national media before he has announced his future intentions.
"It's all a setup," Michael Steele, who chaired the Republican National Committee in 2009, when Christie first ran for governor, told The Daily Beast. "It's unbelievable. It says to me that there are interests in the media and in politics who don’t want the status quo to change, and who actually like this red/blue politics crisis-management model."
Just two months ago, Christie beat Democratic opponent Barbara Buono by a 21-point margin. Since then, polls have shown him in a virtual tied race with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency, with a CNN survey showing him as being slightly ahead.
The media attacks did not come far behind his second-term win. Last week, a front page article in The New York Times painted Christie as a bully who uses his political power to get revenge against his enemies.
Among several complaints, The Times article included the "Bridgegate" scandal, which targets Christie as being behind closing access lanes from Fort Lee, N.J. on to the George Washington Bridge. The lanes were shut down for four days after the city's Democratic mayor refused to back Christie's re-election campaign, and two Port Authority officials have resigned their posts over the issue.
In addition, the book "Double Down" was released just before the November election, using details from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney's vice presidential vetting team. The book painted Christie as being a politician who did favors for his allies and lobbied for business interests of people like Bernie Madoff.
Christie loyalists say that the governor is used to media scrutiny. One aide said that he's also not surprised when "media outlets and Democratic organizations make him a target."
Steele said such negative coverage plays itself out in many ways, "sometimes aided by the main target, sometimes by subordinates or opposition camps. There’s a tendency to reach that turning point so that the knives come out and the new narrative begins."
However, it's not just the liberal media that has turned against Christie. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck recently blasted Christie during an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, calling the New Jersey Republican "a fat nightmare" and labeling him as a "progressive."
Some of the scrutiny also started in November 2012, when Christie hugged President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy, which experts say will likely haunt him if he runs for the presidency.
But even with the negative coverage, Steele said, Christie "is the same guy today as he was when he sat in my office when I was national chairman during his first bid for the governorship of New Jersey . . . He’s still the same breath of fresh air, the same guy who can create a new narrative for the Republican Party and the country, which is longing and starving for it."
Steele says Christie needs to be sure he doesn't become his "own worst enemy" and fuel
By Sandy Fitzgerald
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