April 6th, 2014
11:50 AM ET
5 months ago

Former mentor might not back a Christie presidential run

(CNN) – Chris Christie may not have the blessing of his longtime mentor should he decide to run for president in 2016.

Tom Kean, former Republican governor and a staple in New Jersey politics, told author Ryan Lizza he's not sure he'd back Christie if he decides to jump into the 2016 race - a dramatic statement coming from the man who helped Christie get his start in politics.

Lizza gave CNN's John King on "Inside Politics" a preview of an extensive new profile of the New Jersey governor, set to publish in The New Yorker on Sunday evening.

"When Chris Christie was 14 years old, he went and knocked on this guy's door and said, 'I want to learn how to be in politics.' And Tom Kean taught him how to do it," Lizza said Sunday. "He helped him become U.S. attorney. He was the first person to endorse him when he ran for governor in 2009, probably the most important person in his political life."

Lizza said Kean offered the statement unsolicited and said he's got his eye on other potential 2016 GOP candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Christie is considering launching a bid in the coming presidential election, but his popularity has plummeted since January, when a scandal enveloped his administration

Garden State lawmakers and the U.S. attorney's office are looking into allegations that top Christie appointees orchestrated traffic jams last September by closing access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to politically punish that town's mayor for not endorsing the governor's 2013 re-election campaign.

Christie has denied knowing anything about the gridlock until after it occurred, and has said he knew nothing about any political mischief by members of his administration. Last week a review commissioned by Christie's administration cleared the New Jersey governor of any wrongdoing in the bridge controversy, which has put a cloud over his political future.

"Tom Kean also talked about the bigger problem for Christie is not necessarily Bridgegate or the legal inquiry, but the culture of intimidation, is what Tom Kean called it, that has been sort of suggested by Bridgegate," Lizza said, adding that there's a back story to the Christie-Kean relationship, involving the former governor's son, a state senator in New Jersey.

“Kean told me, he tried to take out my son. And that's the back story to this split,” he said.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Chris Christie • Inside Politics • New Jersey
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Winston Smith

    Face it, he'd be quite a drain on the food and refreshment budget of any campaign. They might go bankrupt keeping him fed.

    April 6, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Let's see the Christie apologists spin this one away. Tom Kean was a great governor and no liberal by any stretch, and for him to break ties with Christie and his gang-warfare mentality style of politics says a lot about how far Christie has dropped. What astonishes me is how long it took for Kean to recognize the morally repugnant behavior of his protege for what it was, and the fact that Christie would be un-electable on the national stage.

    April 6, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Adelson will decide who Kean will support, so this a moot point.

    April 6, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Thomas

    It's looking more and more like a Jeb Bush Christmas party in 2015.

    Yet as always , the final decision will be made by such psychics as high priestess of doom Ann Coulter

    April 6, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I have been a registered NJ voter since 1975. I never voted for Tom Kean, but he wasn't that bad as governor. Christie on the other hand is a disaster. The sooner he gets thrown out of office, the better!

    April 6, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Christi only has a 50-50 chance of being govenor until 2016, I'm betting AGAINEST him at this point. BUT ALL the other GOP clowns are even worse!!!!!!

    April 6, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    The Koch brothers don't want him either and edelson is not going to give him his billions. They want another shrub in the White House to continue destroying the country like his brother did. They are standing their ground,

    April 6, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |