Christie Tells Donors Antsy About Bridge-gate: 'You'll Get Over It'

Image: Christie Tells Donors Antsy About Bridge-gate: 'You'll Get Over It'

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 09:20 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has some words for Republican donors who remain nervous about bankrolling his potential presidential campaign in the wake of the bridge-gate scandal: "You'll get over it."

The governor, at a three-day political retreat sponsored by Mitt Romney in Park City, Utah, over the weekend, found himself working hard to appease continuing concerns that the scandal has left him too damaged for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The first questions posed to Christie after he made a forceful speech to about 300 key donors concerned the controversy stirred after his administration closed roads to the George Washington Bridge to New York after Fort Lee's mayor refused to back his re-election campaign.

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"Don't be nervous," the Republican governor told the donors, who are concerned not only about the scandal but about other surprises they may face if they back him.

He said in his speech, which was closed to the media, that the scandal is a media-generated conspiracy to frame him after he got 61 percent of the vote in a Democratic-leaning state.

Further, he said, opponents are trying to keep him from getting any "more altitude," but the issue is not a concern.

"I’m not that worried about it. I hope none of you are worried about it, though I expect some of you are," Christie told his audience. "But you’ll get over it. It will be fine."

He also thanked Romney for being his "strongest defender" as the scandal expanded. Romney's donors still remain loyal to him, and he could have influence over who they choose to support.

Despite his strong words, Christie is facing investigations by a special legislative committee in his state, along with a federal investigation from the U.S. attorney's office.

He continues to deny he knew the bridge's lanes were being closed, blaming the incident on aides who have since left office or been fired.

Christies' reassurances may or may not ease tensions among Republican donors.

So far, the early groundwork that was going on at this point in the election process four years ago is not happening, as donors are holding onto their money.

"I think you'll have more candidates chasing the same number of donors and dollars, and less time to do it," said Romney campaign finance chairman Spencer Zwick. "It's basic supply and demand."

In addition, candidates are not getting their pleas out early, rice farmer Al Montna of Yuba City, Calif., an early member of Romney's 2012 finance network, told the Los Angeles Times last week.

The Christie scandal is not the only factor making donors worry. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a presumptive front-runner, has not yet announced if he is running, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is not seen as having ties to the establishment donors he'll need to mount a nationwide campaign.

But chasing Romney's former donors may not help, either, said Mark DeMoss, a Romney supporter from Georgia.

"Any potential candidate would make a mistake to assume anything from Romney supporters," said DeMoss. "I really think there is just a huge group of people who thought he was a rare breed."

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