GOP committeemen: Christie's bridge drama won't stay with him
January 9th, 2014
01:53 PM ET
9 years ago

GOP committeemen: Christie's bridge drama won't stay with him

Washington (CNN) – Chris Christie's handling of access lane closures to the George Washington Bridge - and the fact that his staff closed the lanes for apparent political retribution - will not matter to voters if the Governor decides to run for president, three Republican committeemen from early primary and caucus states said Thursday.

"I don't think this will make any difference whatsoever if Gov. Christie runs," Stephen Duprey, Republican National Committeeman from New Hampshire, told CNN. "People in New Hampshire could care less about whether some bureaucrat working on his staff did something stupid like this."

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Duprey said the controversy – which comes roughly two years before from the 2016 New Hampshire primary - is "much ado about nothing and the New Hampshire primary voters could care less."

Glenn McCall, the Republican Party's committeeman from South Carolina, echoed Duprey, telling CNN he hasn't heard many people talking about the issue in the Palmetto State and he doubts it will be important to voters in the run up to 2016.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "He did what a leader should do. You take accountability for what happened."

He continued: "I think most folks I talk to in our state, really appreciate his frankness, his candor, his leadership style."

What's more, McCall said he worries that stories like this "distract from the disaster of Obamacare," President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare law that has drawn the ire of many conservatives and has suffered from a flawed roll out.

Christie, the early Republican frontrunner for his party's presidential nomination in 2016, has found himself embroiled in the scandal involving his staff, a Democratic mayor of a New Jersey borough and the George Washington Bridge.

The September lane closures caused massive traffic backups in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Christie's administration has long blamed the traffic jam on an incompetent traffic study.

But on Wednesday, news broke that Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's deputy chief of staff, had ordered the lane closures as political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who didn't endorse Christie in his 2013 reelection.

Christie apologized to residents of Fort Lee at a much-watched press conference Thursday and told reporters that he fired Kelly and cut of ties with his longtime political adviser Bill Stepien. Christie vowed that he had no knowledge of the retribution and first learned of it early on Wednesday, when the story broke.

Juliana Bergeron, a Republican national committeewoman from New Hampshire, said she was impressed by Christie's press conference. As for voters in her home state, Bergeron said she hasn't heard many concerns in the last 48 hours and believes this story will not matter by January 2016.

"I have not heard a lot of talk about this," Bergeron said via email. "2016 is further away than we political junkies think. I am sure his opponents/the Dems will try to keep the story going, but I think it will die down and have little or no effect in 2016."

Christie has not yet declared whether he will run for president in 2016, but the governor is seen as a likely candidate. In order to secure his party's nomination, committeemen like McCall and Duprey – who come from states that play a vital role in the presidential nomination process – will be important.

Filed under: New Jersey • South Carolina
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    And something like this will never happen again .... yeah, right. Christie is a hothead. Just give him a minute or two before he yells at a teacher or pretends to be all tough ...

    January 9, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Well, I certainly am not going to spend undo time explaining to the bubble-heads why the bubble bursts year after year.

    January 9, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Of course, they can predict that it won't make any difference to Republican voters. Is anyone really surprised by this?

    January 9, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "What's more, McCall said he worries that stories like this "distract from the disaster of Obamacare,""

    LOL. Just pull the string coming out of their back and voila...

    January 9, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. NameFrank Deery

    As a Republican, it matters to me and, I am
    Sure others, so Christie is over. That this
    very controlling Governor did Not Know the details or reign in his
    Staff makes me very suspicious of his rather
    Sad attempts to dodge a bullet.

    We already have a green President, with bad
    staff around him. Let's not repeat it with Christie. Only a matter of time!

    January 9, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Larry in Houston

    LOL – Thanks CNN, for my laugh of the day ....Sure it won't make any difference to the average republican Voter, But Surely the GOP knows that they "depend" on the "Independent" Voters ?? ( same way with the democrats ) This country has a lot of Independents who can sway the vote, one way or another

    January 9, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Right...setting aside that it's inaccurate, we already have myriad comments from the rabid Teatrolls about how this is allegedly just like Obama's scandals. If that were true, GOPers/Teatrolls shoud be demanding that Christie resign or be impeached, drummed out of office, worst Governor ever, etc. Either that or they are now implicitly admitting that none of that is really necessary with respect to Obama. Bottom line, really, is that they'll vote for whoever tells them they can turn everything back to the 1950's again and, well, pretty much screw all non-christians, minorities, the poor, elderly, sick, disabled, etc., in the process.

    Anyhoo, guess who disagrees with these guys about whether this effects Christie's chances. That's right: the campaign managers for people like the Randroid, the Ayatollah Santorum, Cowboy Fonzie et al.

    January 9, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along.

    January 9, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. rs

    If the GOP thinks this controversy means nothing to Christie's future, why do they keep manufacturing the ones they hold against the President?

    January 9, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    Of course it won't. The GOP owns the media. All of their true scandals get swept under the rug. The GOP knows he's all they have. I'm willing to bet as we speak they are looking for some reason to throw the POTUS's name or Hillary's out there with more made up junk. You won't hear a peep out of Issa until this is over. But a website failure calls for an investigation and impeachment.

    January 9, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Tom

    I think we have to wait a few days before making pronouncements about the impact on Christie's political future. If the story ends here (Christie apologized and fired some staffers) it probably won't do too much damage. The election is two years away and no one will remember this issue by then. On the other hand if this becomes one of those ongoing revelation stories where new, damning, details emerge every few days that draw Cristie deeper and deeper into the crisis. could do irreparable harm. Remember Herman Cain? The first woman to accuse him of inappropriate behavior didn't do too much damage - it was a classic he-said/she-said situation and Cain just denied any wrong doing. But when two more women came forward with stories that substantiated the first woman's claims it was all over for Cain. I think Christie faces the same situation right now. A series of "Christie is a bully" stories will kill his chances for a successful run for President in 2016. Otherwise, it will all blow over and probably help Christie in the long run because it takes a juicy scandal off the table for use the primaries and general election when the stakes are much higher.

    January 9, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair


    Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along.
    Meh... nontroversy.

    January 9, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. current state of the union

    Typical gop, trying to tell us what should matter, they simply don't get it. Nothing but BS, 24/7/365, wonder what they would have said if it were Obama?

    January 9, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. GOP = Greed Over People

    Of course, the public welfare is no of no concern to the GOP. They prove it time after time, first they want all zygotes carried to full term, but once here, the former incubator becomes a "welfare queen" and the new infant is "another paycheck", all resting much too comfortably in the "welfare hammock'.

    So, "cut 'er down"!

    January 9, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along."
    Very cute, but I can spell "absolutely."

    January 9, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    And to clarify, just because there's no direct link to Christie doesn't mean that there's no controversy here. Here, there is documentary proof that this was a politically motivated stunt. That's a controversy in and of itself. Proof that it was all a politically motivated stunt doesn't exist for things like the IRS accusations with respect to Obama. That's not a distinction without a difference.

    January 9, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along."

    Very cute, but I can spell "absolutely." I can also tell the difference between an incident involving documentary proof that it was a politically motivated stunt versus an incident that, despite thousands of documents and countless hearings and reams of testimony, still has produced no proof that it was a politically motivated stunt.

    January 9, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. sly

    Nixon: "I am not a crook"
    OJ: "I'll search my whole life for the killer of Nicole"
    Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman"
    Bush: "We won! We won!"

    Christie: "I was misfed."

    January 9, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. vic , nashville ,tn

    Let Independent voters decide that

    January 9, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair


    Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along.
    Meh... nontroversy.
    Correcting your typo, Fair? I don't bother, for as long as the intent and meaning is there. Typing is challenging.

    January 9, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    Drive these GOP thugs out. Evil goes away.

    January 9, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    ThinkAgain wrote:

    And something like this will never happen again .... yeah, right. Christie is a hothead. Just give him a minute or two before he yells at a teacher or pretends to be all tough ...
    Your post reminded of those chocolate candy bar commercials...."you're not yourself until you've had a Snickers"

    January 9, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. just asking

    i think it is safe to say the lovefest between the lefties and christie, because he hugged obama before the election thus helping him, is officially over. for a minute there i thought you actually liked christie.... bwahahahahaha

    January 9, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. Jay

    It will make all the difference in the world. If Christie can't even run a Governor's office, there is no way he can run a nation. If he is so stupid that a Bridget Kelley can fool him, he would stand no chance against a foreign head of state in a treaty talk. If Christie were not involved, he would have investigated the matter months ago. He would have called for outside investigators, too. He would have fired the Transportation boobs who did this thing…rather than letting them retire on full benefits. The story will not end here. It may go underground, for awhile, but will resurface in the 2016 election…I promise you. At best, if innocent, Christie has shown that he lacks good judgement when it comes to vetting, hiring, and interviewing, staff. He shows an aversion to investigating allegations of wrong doing by his people. He thought the whole thing was funny, and laughed about people's misery…until it caused HIM problems. He has lost the Independent voters, and the Dems will remind them about all of this in the 2016 election season. Christie's chances for The Presidency have been destroyed.

    January 9, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. Jules

    Drip, drip, drip. Does a deputy chief of staff normally give directions to the port authority and they do what the person said without authorization of the governor or with the understanding that this person speaks for the governor? Is that how it normally works? My guess is no. Completely misled by staff????? He was completely misled by staff and ambulances couldn't get to where they needed to go and buses full of kids were hung up in traffic and he had no idea what was going on? I thought Christie was a smart guy – I thought I could give this guy a look in 2016. Misled by staff – can't happen if you want to be president. He would have been better off saying nothing than saying that – it's like when George Romney said he had been brainwashed about the Viet Nam war. Your job is to know.

    January 9, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |