New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's fanatic support of the Dallas Cowboys — which has state legislators weighing an ethics probe into how a firm co-owned by the team ended up with a lucrative Port Authority contract — raises even more questions as the governor considers a 2016 presidential run, political observers told Newsmax.
"This is the behavior of a not-ready-for-prime-time presidential candidate," pollster Matt Towery said on Friday. "To get embroiled in something having to do with a football team that has no nexus to New Jersey and is so high-profile, it just seems silly."
Tobe Berkovitz, an associate advertising professor at Boston University, said that the two-term governor "is the kind of a guy who doesn't have much of a speed brake on what he does or what he says."
"The press loves that because there's always a story — but you're basically always throwing him raw meat, and that's what he's done this time."
Christie, 52, has been a Cowboys fan since childhood. He has been under attack since social media erupted with images of him hugging team owner Jerry Jones after Dallas beat the Detroit Lions in a Jan. 4 playoff game in Arlington, Texas.
Sporting his trademark orange good-luck sweater, Christie sat in Jones' private box at AT&T Stadium. Jones flew Christie, his wife and four children to Arlington on his private jet.
Christie was attacked by Eagles, Jets and Giants fans throughout the state. In addition, a Democratic group with ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Ethics Commission over the gifts, NJ.com reports.
Jones, who has owned the Cowboys since 1989, has referred to Christie as his team's "mojo" — and the governor has said he wants to attend every Cowboys playoff game.
He will be in Jones' box on Sunday at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin when Dallas plays the Green Bay Packers.
Christie, however, will be "paying for travel and tickets for himself, his sweater, and his son to make sure we keep silliness out of the football season," spokesman Michael Drewniak said.
"As a lifelong Cowboys fan, it’s hard to pass up attending a playoff game when you’ve been dubbed the team’s mojo," Drewniak said. "Not wanting to risk breaking the team’s 5-0 streak by messing with karma, Gov. Christie, his orange sweater, and his son, Andrew, will all travel to Lambeau Field this weekend to attend the game against the Green Bay Packers."
The governor could bump into another possible 2016 presidential contender: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who also will be at the game. They have been trading barbs
on social media throughout the week.
Christie's Green Bay decision comes as a New Jersey legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings in 2013 considers a probe into the circumstances surrounding the Port Authority's awarding of a contract to
Legends Hospitality, a company co-owned by the Cowboys.
Democrat State Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Democrat Sen. Loretta Weinberg said they had questions about the deal. The authority awarded Legends the agreement in 2013 to operate the observatory at One World Trade Center.
Both Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the Port Authority's board to approve the deal. The governors oversee the authority, which manages the bridges between New York and New Jersey.
Christie's office has insisted the gifts from Jones are permitted under New Jersey's ethics rules because of an executive order that allows the governor to receive gifts from personal friends.
"It was stupid for him to do it," Berkovitz said of Jones' gifts, "and doubly stupid for him to double down on it — and triply stupid for him to triple down on it by going back again."
Christie has attended five Cowboys games this season, including three at the invitation of Jones, NJ.com reports.
"Plus, people are bringing up: 'Who paid for the flights? Who paid for the tickets? Who paid for the box?' " Berkovitz added. "That causes trouble also.
"It's like, hey, just sit in front of some kind of giant television set and enjoy it with your pals. But he likes to stick it in everybody's craw" before being slapped back, he said. "That's what's happening this time."
That Christie continues to attend Cowboys games amid the furor prevents the governor from "trying to be a serious man dealing with serious policy issues," Towery told Newsmax. "It's amateurish. It doesn't bode well for him running a well-put-together campaign.
"It's not fatal to him, but he's going to have to get his act and this campaign together and his organization together very quickly — or he's simply going to be a nonstarter."
Perhaps the only thing Christie is going to end up being is great news copy, Berkovitz said.
"He's one of these guys that gives as good as he gets. The press beats him up and he goes right back at them. That's the guy.
"That's just the nature of this guy as a politician — and it's what makes him great copy," he added. "It's what makes him always interesting, and it probably is what will make him not president of the United States."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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