As if it weren’t enough that the image of Chris Christie screaming at a New Jersey public school teacher went viral within hours of the November 2nd exchange, Time.com posted an excerpt from a new book (to be published November 5th) by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann–called Double Down: Game Change 2012—that reveals some very damaging information about the controversial NJ governor.
The book, which chronicles the “circuslike Republican nomination fight” and the “rise and fall of Mitt Romney,” details Romney’s search for a running mate in advance of the 2012 Presidential election. This excerpt, which focuses the Romney team’s vetting of Chris Christie, notes that Romney charged his team with finding people who had “nothing in their background that could become a distraction for the campaign.”
And that left Chris Christie, whom the team affectionately named “Pufferfish” (I know), out of the race for lots of reasons:
- Christie initially banned Romney from fundraising in New Jersey, insisting that Romney needed Christie’s permission to raise funds in the Garden State
- Romney was annoyed by Christie’s chronic lateness, which Romney considered to be a sign of arrogance
- Romney disliked Christie’s disregard for health and fitness, things that Romney himself valued
- Christie repeatedly refused to answer questions from the vetting committee, leading Romney advisors to assume Christie was hiding information because it was “bad”
- In 2010, Department of Justice inspectors labeled Christie as “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and said he offered “‘insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification’ for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons.”
- Christie worked for the Securities Industry Association during Bernie Madoff’s tenure there, and Christie “sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act”
- Christie was the subject of a congressional hearing because of his habit of awarding contracts to friends and political allies
- Christie was the defendant in a 1994 defamation lawsuit in New Jersey
- After an SEC investigation, Christie’s brother, Todd, agreed to a settlement because he admitted to consistently overcharging clients; the Romney team was also concerned about Todd’s motives for and management of a family foundation
- The wealth of pesky YouTube clips showing Chris Christie on the attack were also concerning to the vetting team.
- Governor Christie’s health records indicated that he had medical problems he didn’t initially disclose
Romney’s vetting team concluded that if Romney were to choose Christie as a running-mate, much more digging into Christie’s past would be necessary. And ultimately, as we all know, the team didn’t like what they saw.
If Christie’s history was too sordid for Romney’s standards, Christie has good reason to be concerned about Halperin’s and Heilemann’s new book and the implications it will have for Christie’s presidential aspirations.
And while Christie’s hostile, adversarial relationship with New Jersey’s teachers is well-documented, I can’t help but wonder whether his knowledge that the Double Down excerpt was about to be published caused him to let loose on NJ public school teacher Melissa Tomlinson (here is her response to the governor) just three days before the state’s gubernatorial election.
Either way, now the world knows what it looks like when a pufferfish explodes.