There is no professed motivation for Christie’s newfound feelings for the president, other than that the two men are now partners in a massive effort to rebuild his state. Asked about the election on “Fox & Friends,” Christie said, “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” adding: “If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”I want to say Chris Christie is saying and doing the right thing, not only morally and in his own political interest, but in the interest of Mitt Romney and the GOP. Saying it's not political and acting like politics are suspended, the best approach morally, happens also to be the best approach politically.
It's good politically because it's a vivid demonstration of devotion to public service and the capacity to rise about partisanship and do the things that need to be done.
Compare the Christie's interaction with Obama to the way Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco interacted with President Bush after Hurricane Katrina. Here's how Bush described some of it in his book "Decision Points" (at page 308-309):
The initial plan had been for me to land at the New Orleans airport, pick up Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, and survey the damage on an aerial tour. But on the Marine One flight from Mississippi, we received word that the governor, mayor, and a Louisiana congressional delegation were demanding a private meeting on Air Force One first.Maybe it makes you Mitt Romney supporters nervous to see Chris Christie working smoothly with President Obama. You need to visualize the alternative. Governor Christie is doing exactly the right thing.
The tone started out tense and got worse. The governor and mayor bickered. Everyone blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for failing to meet their needs. Congressman Bobby Jindal pointed out that FEMA had asked people to email their requests, despite the lack of electricity in the city. I shook my head. “We’ll fix it,” I said, looking at FEMA Director Mike Brown. Senator Mary Landrieu interrupted with unproductive emotional outbursts. “Would you please be quiet?” I had to say to her at one point.
I asked to speak to Governor Blanco privately. We walked out of the conference room, through a narrow passageway, and into the small cabin at the front tip of Air Force One. I told her it was clear the state and local response forces had been overwhelmed. “Governor,” I pressed, “you need to authorize the federal government to take charge of the response.”
She told me she needed twenty-four hours to think it over.
“We don’t have twenty-four hours,” I snapped. “We’ve waited too long already.”
The governor refused to give an answer.
Next I asked to meet privately with Mayor Nagin. He had spent four days since Katrina holed up in a downtown hotel. He hadn’t bathed or eaten a hot meal until he used my shower and ate breakfast on Air Force One. In a radio interview the previous evening, he had vented his frustrations with the federal government. “Get off your asses and do something,” he said, “and let’s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.” Then he broke down in tears. When I met him on the plane, Ray whispered an apology for his outburst and explained that he was exhausted.
I asked the mayor what he thought about federalizing the response. He supported it. “Nobody’s in charge,” he said. “We need a clear chain of command.” But only the governor could request that the federal government assume control of the emergency.
Mitt Romney likes to portray himself as a Republican who can work "across the aisle," and Chris Christie is modeling that very behavior. Message: That's what Republicans do. That's a good message, speaking to the very moderates who might drift over to Obama if the Republicans created friction and rancor in the wake of the hurricane.