This weekend, Chris Christie heads south - and hopes that his political future doesn't.
As he travels to Florida, the New Jersey governor will be making be his first out of state trip following his lane closure scandal last year. During the event, also known as “Bridgegate”, a traffic holdup on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee resulted in closed lanes and gridlock. It was surmised that perhaps Christie’s aides may have been involved as a recently released email from former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”. Subsequently, it was believed this move may have been at Christie’s direction - the motive conceivably having been to penalize the town’s mayor for not endorsing him.
He has already taken measures by distancing himself from those involved and spending a January 9th news conference disputing any direct connection to the matter over the course of two hours. However, as 20 subpoena targets were announced this Friday, the pot is getting stirred anew.
Thus, Christie will spend a good deal of his visit attempting to restore a sense of confidence in his Republican donors by assuring them that he is handling the allegations and that he is still a feasible presidential candidate for 2016. While there, he will attend several fundraisers to assist Republican Gov. Rick Scott and simultaneously seek to assuage any fears long-time and newcomer supporters alike might have about his negative media attention. His Saturday schedule will include helping to raise money for Scott at a luncheon in Orlando, a Palm Beach event with one of the nation’s largest sugar producers, and a Fort Lauderdale fundraiser at the residence of Bill Rubin (a lobbying firm president and friend of Scott). Sunday, Christie will appear at two more Palm Peach fundraisers in addition to a meeting organized by Home Depot co-founder, Ken Langone, and comprising major financial backers.
Chris Christie, carrying Bridgegate baggage, arrives in Florida http://t.co/globDWUXy1
— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) January 17, 2014
When asked how supporters felt about Christie’s current controversy, Langone said potential donors have told him they were impressed by Christie's decisiveness and candor at the Trenton news conference.
Others, like Al Hoffman (Republican donor who co-chaired campaign of President George W. Bush), claimed Christie’s public image may have been marred in the eyes of some fundraisers, but that his continued openness and apologetic approach would help. He said, “He’s apologizing all over the place, which I think is good. It will help re-establish his credibility base, which is pretty high anyway. But more of it won’t hurt.”
At the outset of February, Christie intends to travel to Dallas and Houston for RGA finance events before heading to Chicago for fundraisers as well.
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