Tags: Chris Christie | Christie Bridge Controversy | JoyBehar | ChrisChristie | TomKean

Behar to Christie, 'You're Toast'; Ex-Gov. Kean Not Backing Him

Image: Behar to Christie, 'You're Toast'; Ex-Gov. Kean Not Backing Him New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, goes up to the podium to respond to a joke by comedian Joy Behar.

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 01:25 PM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been dealt a double blow by the state's former governor, Tom Kean, and TV host Joy Behar in his chances to become the Republican presidential contender.

In an in-depth article on Christie's "political style" in the wake of the bridge-gate scandal,  Kean told the New Yorker that he had not yet decided who he would back for president, even if Christie runs in 2016.

"I haven't decided whether I'm going to support him or not," said Kean, which is an apparent slap in the face to Christie, who has always maintained that Kean was his chief political mentor.

"There are a lot of people I don't know that well," added Kean, while mentioning Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, among other potential nominees. "And I'd like to get to know them better."

His comments came as a video surfaced this week of former "The View" host Joy Behar telling Christie: "You're toast," referring to his chances of him becoming the next president.

Story continues below video.

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And even though her remarks came at the April 1 celebrity roast for the 90th birthday of Brendan Byrne, who served as New Jersey governor from 1974 to 1982, it was not seen as a friendly exchange between Christie and Behar, according to the author of the New Yorker article, Ryan Lizza.

Christie became uneasy when Behar made a joke about his weight and the closure of Fort Lee, N.J., access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge that led to a four-day traffic nightmare last September.

"When I first heard that he was accused of blocking off three lanes on the bridge, I said, 'What the hell is he doing, standing in the middle of the bridge?'" joked Behar.

But Christie then interrupted her to point out that this was a "Byrne roast" and not about him. When he tried to grab her notes, possibly in a joking manner, she said, "Don't bully me!"

Christie, who has been accused of playing bully politics, then made a comment out of earshot. Behar turned to Christie sitting next to her and replied, "Why don't you get up here at the microphone instead of being such a coward?"

After another uncomfortable exchange of words, Behar, who was "noticeably rattled," according to Lizza, then said, "I really don't know about the presidency. Let me put it to you this way, in a way that you'd appreciate: You're toast!"

Christie, who had been a frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination, looked clearly stunned for a few seconds.

In a comment about Lizza's piece, New Yorker blogger John Cassidy said, "Joy Behar is right. Chris Christie is toast." He added, "By the time you get to the end of it, I bet you'll find yourself asking the same question I did: How could we ever have taken this bully seriously as a presidential candidate?"

Kean's lack of endorsement for Christie in the New Yorker article was seen by University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato as a serious indictment of the governor's potential candidacy for president.

"It'd be one thing if Kean was the former governor of California saying he had to get to know the field," Sabato told The Star-Ledger. "But if you can't marshal support from the key people from your own party in your own state it isn't much of a recommendation of your candidacy to the rest of the country."

Kean may have had personal motives of revenge for not backing Christie because they had a bitter falling out when the governor attempted in vain to dump his son, state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., from his leadership position in preference for state Sen. Kevin O'Toole, a Christie associate.

Kean Sr., however, told the Star-Ledger there's no bad blood between them any longer.

"There's nothing on my side," the former governor said. "I got pretty mad at him about what he tried to do to my son, but he and my son are getting along well fine now."

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