POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Christie Widely Praised for Calling Out House Speaker Boehner

By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
NJ Today

On the day after Gov. Chris Christie’s tough criticism of Speaker John Boehner, it’s hard to find anyone in New Jersey criticizing Christie, certainly not former Gov. Tom Kean.

“I sympathize with Boehner because I’ve been a legislative leader. It’s like herding cats. Boehner’s got a terrible, terrible job. On the other hand, the governor’s right,” Kean said. “It’s taken much longer for us to get any help out of Washington than it took people in Katrina. And when they weren’t moving the bill, the frustration showed and you know what my immediate reaction was? The governor’s got our back.”

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Rutgers professor Ross Baker, who studies Congress, says it wasn’t just Boehner’s action but the manner in which he did it, ignoring four late-night phone calls from Christie.

“Gov. Christie is a national figure. He was, after all, the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention. He’s the governor of a major state. And I think he deserves a little bit better than to be blown off so casually by the Speaker,” Baker said. “I think one of those four calls could have been taken.”

By lashing out at the highest ranking elected Republican in the country, might Christie pay a price?

“He will pay a price, there’s no question about it. The leader doesn’t like it and some of his colleagues don’t like it at all and if the governor decides to stick his head in the national scene again and run for office, they may take it out on him some day but the governor knows that and that’s again another thing you like about him because that’s not the calculation,” said Kean. “The calculation is how to do it for the state of New Jersey.”

Baker believes Christie has already paid a price. “I think in a sense that problem has been discounted by the appearance on the beach with President Obama during Hurricane Sandy. I think that was the vignette that really caught conservative Republicans the wrong way.”

Democrats had urged Christie to push back.

“I appreciate that the governor took heart to what we asked and responded in the way he should have and I actually put out a release thanking him for doing that,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“From the feedback that I have heard, both from the talking heads on the various shows this morning and from the bloggers which I’ve read and the folks calling my district, overwhelmingly they are absolutely standing up and cheering for Chris Christie,” said Sen. Kevin O’Toole.

Kean says it was a little bit risky for Christie to take on his party’s leader, however justified it may have been. Baker thinks Christie had little left to lose with conservative Republicans after his pre-election embrace of Barack Obama.