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Nov 06 2013

The Skeletons in Christie’s Closet

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann have a new book out called Double Down: Game Change 2012 about the 2012 election and it includes some interesting details about the vetting of potential vice-presidential candidates by the Romney campaign. But let’s start with this fascinating little tidbit from Time’s excerpt from the book:

Myers set up her operation in a third-floor office on Boston’s Commercial Street that became known as “the clean room.” Because the Romney campaign’s servers were under continual assault by Chinese hackers, the computers in the clean room were not connected to the Internet. Myers insisted that the team be extremely cautious about what they put in e-mail when using their regular computers. Ted Newton and Chris Oman, two veep background checkers, concluded it was best to communicate in code. Based on their junk-food-saturated vetting diet, they called their undertaking Project Goldfish (after the crackers)—ultimately giving each of the VP finalists an aquatic code name. Myers’ plan was to have Project Goldfish completed by Memorial Day. In April she presented Romney with a list of two dozen names, which he whittled down to 11: Kelly Ayotte, John Cornyn, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Bill Frist, Mike Huckabee, Bob McDonnell, Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.

Within a month, the vetters had assembled preliminary research books on the 11, which Romney perused and then rendered his short list: Christie (Pufferfish), Pawlenty (Lakefish), Portman (Filet o Fish), Rubio (Pescado) and Ryan (Fishconsin).

Those are hilarious. Now to some of the details about Chris Christie that kept Romney from picking him as his VP candidate and could prove problematic in a 2016 presidential run:

He was also a fundraising dynamo, but he and his staff were overbearing and hard to work with, demanding in ways that would have been unthinkable from any other surrogate. Months earlier, Christie had banned Romney from raising money in New Jersey until Christie had given the O.K. to do so—a move Romney found galling, like something out of The Sopranos. Are you kidding me, Mitt thought. He’s going to do that? There were plenty of New Jersey donors who’d given money to Mitt in 2008; now Christie was trying to impose a gag order on talking to them? “He sounds like the biggest asshole in the world,” Stevens griped to his partner, Russ Shriefer. More recently, Trenton insisted on private jets, lavish spreads of food, space for a massive entourage. Romney ally Wayne Berman looked at the bubble around Christie and thought, He’s not the President of the United States, you know.

That’s seriously disturbing behavior. If I’d been Mitt, I would have told him to pound sand.

The list of questions Myers and her team had for Christie was extensive and troubling. More than once, Myers reported back that Trenton’s response was, in effect, Why do we need to give you that piece of information? Myers told her team, We have to assume if they’re not answering, it’s because the answer is bad.

The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record. There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and for offering “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons. There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official—and sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. There was Christie’s decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing. There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race. Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor’s brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.” (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.) And all that was on top of a litany of glaring matters that sparked concern on Myers’ team: Christie’s other lobbying clients, his investments overseas, the YouTube clips that helped make him a star but might call into doubt his presidential temperament, and the status of his health.

Ted Newton, managing Project Goldfish under Myers, had come into the vet liking Christie for his brashness and straight talk. Now, surveying the sum and substance of what the team was finding, Newton told his colleagues, If Christie had been in the nomination fight against us, we would have destroyed him—he wouldn’t be able to run for governor again. When you look below the surface, Newton said, it’s not pretty.

I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s aides are paying close attention, as are potential Republican primary candidates.

18 comments

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  1. 1
    democommie

    Jeez, Christie’s a lying, fucking piece-of-shit sociopath–whodathunkit?

  2. 2
    magistramarla

    It seems that very often the Republicans do all of the work for the Democrats. They either destroy each other or simply implode of their own accord.

  3. 3
    colnago80

    Here’s another excerpt that Singham cited on his blog:

    Punctuality mattered to Romney. Christie’s lateness bugged him. Mitt also cared about fitness and was prone to poke fun at those who didn’t. (“Oh, there’s your date for tonight,” he would say to male members of his traveling crew when they spied a chunky lady on the street.) Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, “Guys! Look at that!”

    Further evidence that Rmoney is a sociopathic scumbag.

  4. 4
    scienceavenger

    This fits right in with an incident of Christie using the governor’s helicopter to attend one of his children’s baseball games.

  5. 5
    Reginald Selkirk

    Myers told her team, We have to assume if they’re not answering, it’s because the answer is bad.

    This was from someone working for Romney, right? You know, the guy who wouldn’t release his tax returns.

  6. 6
    Nick Gotts

    Further evidence that Rmoney is a sociopathic scumbag. -colnago80

    I nominate the advocate of genocide for the Bryan Fischer Award.

  7. 7
    Area Man

    If Christie has too many skeletons in his closet, then the Republicans are in deep shit. He’s the only one among them who loses by only single digits when stacked up against Hillary. And since he’s proven that he can win big in NJ, a blue state with a lot of EVs, he’s their only realistic shot in ’16 given the way things look now. Which is why I hope it turns out that he murdered six people.

  8. 8
    colnago80

    Re Nick Gotts @ #6

    I nominate the limey for the Robert O’Brien award.

  9. 9
    Doug Little

    Which is why I hope it turns out that he murdered six people

    You think that would stop them if he was the only viable candidate? How would they spin that? He single handedly saved ‘merica from a terrorist plot by taking care of a sleeper cell Jack Bauer style or something like that. Maybe they would do the old, well at least he hasn’t murdered millions of babies as the Democrats have, what’s worse, millions of babies or a mere six people.

  10. 10
    Dr X

    Interesting comments about physical appearances, lending further perspective to his criminal battery on a fellow student at prep school. And here he is, a man in his 60s and he still feels compelled to demean people who don’t conform to his narrow conception of physically acceptable humanity.

  11. 11
    Ichthyic

    again, I wonder, since the last republican primary most closely resembled a clown car…. what comes next after clown car?

    clown cannon?

  12. 12
    Ichthyic

    I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s aides are paying close attention, as are potential Republican primary candidates.

    interesting that none of this made a dent in his current election as governor.

  13. 13
    Michael Heath

    This is trivial shit if you’re running for president. For some reason it’s usually a deal-killer when running for VP.

    Gov. Christie is clearly in the top echelon of Republicans for 2016, and there’s little Romney or his entourage can do about it.

    I also think Romney needed Christie in 2012 far more than Christie needed Romney. Where Christie was smart in not helping make them a ’12 duo.

  14. 14
    colnago80

    Re Michael Heath @ #13

    Well, McAuliffe’s smarmy business dealings certainly didn’t help his cause in Virginia. Had he been up against the current Lieutenant Governor, Bill Bolling, instead of the nutcase he ran against, he almost certainly would have lost.

  15. 15
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Here’s another excerpt that Singham cited on his blog:

    No, I cited it.

  16. 16
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Interesting comments about physical appearances, lending further perspective to his criminal battery on a fellow student at prep school. And here he is, a man in his 60s and he still feels compelled to demean people who don’t conform to his narrow conception of physically acceptable humanity.

    Those were my thoughts, too. To think that he could have been the president of the US…

  17. 17
    democommie

    “he’s their only realistic shot in ’16 given the way things look now. Which is why I hope it turns out that he murdered six people.”

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, I cannot keep track of all of the players in the alleged conspiracy involving Glennie Bek, a gaggle of reptilican pols and pundits and a fair slice of the FuckTheNew’sCorpse stable of “journalists*”. So, Christie was involved, too, it boggles the mind!!

    * Where the value for journalist does not, in fact, include any specific attributes of journalism.

  18. 18
    Dennis N

    Fishconsin is, in fact, exceptionally funny. Kudos to the conservative political team, member of a group not known for its humor.

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