Christie Ducks Press at Governors Meeting

Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 11:34 AM

By John Gizzi

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One of the most noticeable happenings at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington last weekend was the "non-availability" of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

While attending workshops and closed-door meetings with his fellow governors, Republican Christie was conspicuous for avoiding reporters covering the NGA conclave and outside events related to the event.

During the NGA gathering, fellow governors mingled freely between sessions with reporters and guests at the J.W. Marriott Hotel. But Christie spent a good part of Saturday afternoon at a fundraising event at the Willard Hotel across the street.

Christie, who is still fielding fallout from the "Bridge-gate" scandal, also missed the opening press conference, a White House dinner, and a meeting between governors and the president.

On Monday morning, while Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal was moderating a panel of governors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the "American Comeback," Christie was back at his office in Trenton.

In sharp contrast to Christie's behavior, Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker talked freely to reporters between sessions at the NGA meeting. Walker has been mentioned in published reports about an investigation into activities of his campaign aides when he first ran for governor in 2010.

"All this is old news and has been resolved," Walker told a crowd of reporters Saturday afternoon, referring to the investigation as a "closed case."

Surrounded by reporters and cameramen as he walked about the Marriott, the Wisconsin governor calmly answered questions about the reports on his campaign aides, recalled how his policies "turned a $3.5 billion deficit into a $100 million surplus," and discussed the appeal of his state's healthcare program, known as BadgerCare.

Asked by another reporter "why Gov. Christie won't appear in public," Walker voiced confidence in his fellow GOP governor.

Other Republican governors who spoke to Newsmax also voiced solidarity with Christie.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Christie is a "good guy, and things have been tough for him lately. I don't know what happened in this circumstance but when folks are down, I try calling them. I encourage them. And I feel for Gov. Christie."

Elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association last year and long mentioned as a leading prospect for his party's 2016 presidential nomination, Christie has been embroiled for weeks in a nationally watched investigation of his possible involvement in Bridge-gate — a scandal in which lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., were closed, causing long traffic lines.

Two close aides to the governor were forced to step down. Christie has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the lane closing as political revenge against Fort Lee's mayor for refusing to endorse Christie for re-election.

But he is clearly suffering on the political front. Days before the NGA meeting, at one of the town hall meetings he normally dominates, the governor found himself the target of hostile questions from angry Garden State voters who had re-elected him in November.

John Gizzi is chief political correspondent and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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