Tags: christie | bridgegate | florida | donors

Christie's Weekend Florida Trip Will Test Presidential Waters

Image: Christie's Weekend Florida Trip Will Test Presidential Waters

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 07:07 AM

By Elliot Jager

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will need to demonstrate that he can still raise significant amounts of money and can sustain the support of the Republican Governors Association if he is to have any chance of running for president in the wake of the bridge-gate scandal.

Christie will begin testing the waters, so to speak, for a 2016 bid when he visits Florida this weekend for a series of previously scheduled events with big Republican donors, according to Politico.

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Analysts are watching the impact of the bridge-gate scandal, which involved his close aides allegedly ordering politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that caused colossal traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J. Christie has denied any knowledge of their behavior.

Among those expected to participate in a Christie event in Florida is Minnesota broadcasting billionaire Stan Hubbard. He told Politico that Christie "has got a big problem because perception is everything — perception is reality.

"I'm sure he's an honorable, decent guy, but I wonder how the hell did he let this happen. I mean, who did he hire? What kind of idiot? It's just ridiculous. How stupid."

But Texas real estate developer Harlan Crow, another Christie contributor, told Politico that unless new damaging information emerged indicating he had knowledge of or was involved in the scandal, "then I see no substantial reason to doubt his leadership."

According to Politico, Christie has been encouraged to make a run for the 2016 Republican nomination by Hubbard, Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, and David Koch, the fourth richest person in the United States, according to Forbes.

Fred Malek, a top Republican organizer, said the Florida events will be "a good test" of the "depth and enthusiasm of support" for Christie.

"I think it'll be very positive," he told Politico.

But others involved in raising political cash also told Politico that "the smart money" will take a wait-and-see attitude.

Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chairs, has been working behind the scenes to bolster his image, emphasizing the message that his handling of the scandal shows "leadership," Politico reported.

Christie has reassured his fellow governors that the scandal is well under control. He appears to have the backing of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who will be with him at some of the weekend fundraising events.

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