Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And The October Surprise Is...Chris Christie

Chris Christie on ABC talking to George Stephanopoulos.

It has become an American electoral tradition. The October surprise. The term was coined in 1972 when on the eve of the presidential election the Nixon White House announced that "peace is at hand" in Vietnam.

George H.W. Bush blamed his loss to Bill Clinton on an October surprise. Four days before the 1992 election, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh announced the indictment of Caspar Weinberger over the Iran-Contra affair. In 2000, George W. Bush seemed to be cruising to an easy victory over Al Gore when his 1976 DUI arrest hit the headlines.

In 2008, the financial meltdown was the October surprise. John McCain failed the presidential test by reacting erratically to the crisis. He suspended his campaign. Attempted to postpone the presidential debates. His vice presidential pick had no idea what AIG did for a living. Barack Obama stayed cool, collected and put to rest any concerns American voters had about his very brief resume.

This year - as the final month of campaigning approached - once again rumors of an October surprise started circulating. For a couple of weeks the right wing media was bracing for a Gloria Allred press conference alleging some wrongdoing by Mitt Romney. Instead, hurricane Sandy came along and revealed that Chris Christie is president Obama's biggest cheerleader.

Chris Christie's allegiance to Romney was first questioned during the GOP convention when he delivered the keynote address. Generally, the role of the keynote speaker is to attack the candidate of the opposing party and build up his party's nominee. Christie delivered a few hits on Obama but reserved most of the speech to talk about himself and his achievements as governor. It left quite a few political commentators scratching their heads. Was Christie positioning himself for a 2016 run?

On the eve of the first presidential debate, Christie hit the Sunday talk shows declaring that Romney was going to reset the presidential race by delivering a strong debate performance. Again, pundits were left scratching their heads. Christie was raising expectations while all the other surrogates were doing the opposite. Was Christie positioning himself for a 2016 run?

It turned out that Christie was right. Romney's performance - or Obama's lack of performance - did reset the race. Christie had bragging rights which he took on the campaign trail. During appearances to supposedly boost the GOP nominee, once again Christie seemed more interested in congratulating himself for predicting that Romney would do well in the debate.

On Monday, hurricane Sandy makes landfall in southern New Jersey. Chris Christie has been on every news channel talking about the damage, rescue efforts and praising Obama. Describing the president's handling of the disaster as "wonderful" and "outstanding". He added that FEMA's response has been "excellent".

When asked by Fox News morning anchors whether Romney planned to come to New Jersey and survey the damage, Christie replied that he wasn't interested in any Romney visit and didn't give a "damn" about the presidential election. He said his focus is on handling the crisis. A few hours later, it was announced that Obama will be visiting New Jersey.

Poor Mitt. Abandoned by one of his top surrogates, he was left collecting food items in Ohio and dodging questions from reporters about his suggestion - during a Republican primary debate - that he would do away with FEMA.

Ever since the first debate, Romney has been rushing to the center and promoting himself as a uniter. Someone who could reach across the aisles and break the partisan gridlock that has been ailing DC. The strategy seemed to be working until Chris Christie reached across the aisle and endorsed Obama. Surprise!