Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mutual Admiration Society

You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.

Presumably, that was the unspoken agreement between President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie before they viewed together the tremendous devastation along the New Jersey shore wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

The governor, who had cited "a great working relationship" with the President and stated "he has been outstanding on this" even before the storm hit, appeared with Obama before reporters in Brigantine in Atlantic County.     "I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and the people of our state," Christie said before the President thanked his buddy for his "extraordinary leadership and partnership" and asserting the Governor "throughout this process has been responsive."

This is old-time politics at its best- with a twist.   Two politicians singing each other's praises.  While usually the guys are of the same party, in this case the Republican and the Democrat both are benefited by their show of bipartisanship.

Barack Obama will carry New Jersey easily next Tuesday, as he will adjacent New York State, where stations in the largest media market in the nation will carry these feel-good images.     In Pennsylvania, though, The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday reported

Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC run by former aides to the Republican nominee, is spending $2.1 million over the campaign's final week to attack President Obama in the state, including $1 million devoted to the expensive Philadelphia media market.

That's on top of $1.1 million in airtime purchased by Americans for Job Security, a conservative group that does not have to disclose its donors because it is organized under the tax code as a trade association.

Pennsylvania is, thankfully, still a long-shot for the Repub nominee.   Further, there is nothing Philadelphia television stations enjoy covering more than anything, positive or negative, occurring along the New Jersey shore.   These visuals of a President, some of which probably will include Christie saying "he means what he says," will play well in the Pennsylvania suburbs of Philadelphia, a prime swing area (not necessarily a prime area for swingers).   And if independent voters in Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and Florida see on network or local broadcasts a Republican governor gushing over a Democratic president, it's all the better.

Shots of the New Jersey governor praising the Democratic president are hardly going to hurt Christie when he faces re-election in the predominantly Democratic state next year.  Additionally, giving a boost to the incumbent President, aching to be recognized as the bipartisan die-hard he has governed as, helps cut the legs out from Mitt Romney.   If the GOP nominee scores an upset on Election Day, there is no Chris Christie presidential run in 2016.

And make no mistake about it:  Chris Christie, though earlier in the campaign a surrogate for the GOP ticket, is praying hard for Mitt Romney to lose.     He notably, and significantly, has not invited his party's nominee to tour the Jersey shore with him.  And few can completely forget Christie's keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, when he treated Romney-Ryan as an afterthought while he slapped himself so often on the back he had to begin chiropractic treatment once he returned to New Jersey (not really- the slaps were figurative).

Please don't be fooled.  Cultivating a relationship with the President of the United States in order to gain greater assistance from the federal government for the people of his state is smart policy, as well as politics.   But the photo op- on the part of both the governor and the President- was a photo op and little else.

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