WASHINGTON — Chris Christie might have been nearly 200 miles away, but his struggles in New Jersey buzzed through the hallways of a Washington hotel this week as hundreds of Republican officials gathered to debate the GOP’s future.
Party activists from Mississippi to Massachusetts defended Christie’s leadership, insisting this is no time to write his political obituary. But they also said it’s far too soon to grant him presidential front-runner status.
Christie’s popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid revelations senior members of his administration helped create massive traffic jams last fall, apparently to exact political retribution against a Democratic New Jersey mayor. Additional allegations of political bullying emerged as federal prosecutors and Democratic legislators probe the matter. Four people close to Christie were fired or resigned.
A roadblock for a possible presidential run? More like a speed bump, one activist said Friday. It could even help Christie among party conservatives by turning him into a martyr, said another. But he still faces resistance among some of those conservatives.
A senior Christie adviser at the Republican National Committee meeting suggested the high-profile governor already overcame the worst of his challenges, although federal prosecutors subpoenaed his recent campaign and Democrats are pressing an abuse-of-power investigation.