MIAMI (CBS4) – This was supposed to be a big moment for Chris Christie – his national coming out party.
He just won re-election with huge numbers. He was selected head of the Republican Governors Association which would allow him to travel the country and introduce himself to the party faithful – giving them a taste of what a Chris Christie presidential campaign might look like in 2016.
But then along came “bridge-gate”.
“It’s great to be here to welcome Chris Christie to the Sunshine State. It’s not every day we have a governor visit Florida whose scandals burns so brightly they outshine even those of our own scandal plagued Governor Rick Scott,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Democratic National Committee Chair and Broward Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz used Christie’s ‘meet and greet’ and fundraising events for Scott in Orlando, Palm Beach and Plantation on Saturday as a chance to beat up not only on him but Scott as well.
When the trip was first envisioned weeks ago, Scott’s campaign staff hoped Christie’s appeal to independents and even some Democrats may rub off on Scott. Now they are hoping to survive the weekend with having anyone get a picture of the two of them together in public.
No public events were planned at any of Saturday’s stops.
“This is not the way anyone wants to come into Florida, he’s ducking from the press, he’s running and now he’s allowing his oppopnents, in this case Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and basically the Broward County Democratic establishment, to come out here and trash him and get free media coverage,” said Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo outside the Palm Beach event. “There were basically 12 broadcast cameras here that’s the kind of negative media coverage of his event that, coupled with the fact that he is running from the press, just makes it look worse, makes it look like he’s hiding.”
Wasserman Schultz agreed.
“It’s a little bizarre that Rick Scott would bring the Chair of the Republican Governors Association, arguably something that he should be proud of in a normal situation, and not brag about it, not show him off, not spend some time in front of the cameras, take some photo ops and answer some questions” said Wasserman Schultz. “Well there is a reason for that and it’s probably both that Rick Scott doesn’t want to be seen standing next to Chris Christie and Chris Christie doesn’t want to answer uncomfortable questions.”
“I think it is much ado about nothing,” said Tom Truex, Chair of the Broward Republican Party.
Truex said he finds the Democrats fascination with Christie strange and 2016 is a long way off.
“A lot of people would like to make it a bigger story than it is and would rather concentrate on something that isn’t so significant and divert attention from a lot of things we ought to be looking at,” said Truex.
“So you don’t think the stories that have come out about Governor Christie at all exclude him from being a presidential contender,” asked CBS 4’s Jim DeFede.
“That isn’t my focus right now but I haven’t seen anything that would exclude him as a presidential candidate,” replied Truex.
Republican Congressman John Mica was one of the few attendees at the Orlando event who was willing to defend Christie and his growing troubles at home.
“The governor handled the situation I thought very well and his leadership has been outstanding. Governor Scott also has proven to be one of the most responsible effective governors we have in the nation,” said Mica.
On Sunday, Christie is scheduled to attend two more events in Palm Beach.