Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama Digging Up Dirt on Potential Opponent Chris Christie

It isn't only the Obamunists who should be researching Governor Chris Christie, conservatives would be  wise to look a bit more closely before jumping off a cliff with the New Jersey governor.  His tough talk makes for a good YouTube video, and he is standing up to the public employee unions on fiscal matters and getting state finances in order.  Governors have no choice but to do so.  But on a host of issues that conservatives care about, Christie is at best a moderate.  As U.S. Attorney, there were serious ethics questions. He is a big-government Republican of the Bush stripe, and appears to believe in global warming and cap-and-trade.  Unfortunately, the New Jersey tough-guy rhetoric masks just another "big-tent" Christie Whitman.

By Josh Margolin

President Obama's re-election campaign is trying to dig up dirt in the Garden State.

Despite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's repeated pronouncements that he will not seek the GOP presidential nomination, Obama operatives are compiling a dossier of what they call "opposition research" -- material that could be used to damage Christie if he changes his mind, The Post has learned.

The Obama campaign is trying to keep its efforts from public view, concerned they would only elevate Christie's already impressive standing within the Republican Party, sources said.

The operatives have chosen not to dispatch their own people to New Jersey, but instead are talking to people there and in New York who know Christie from his time in the governor's office, as a gubernatorial candidate and as US attorney.

Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, did not respond to messages.

Christie has repeatedly -- and colorfully --said he is not running for president in 2012.

"Short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running. I'm not running," he's insisted.

But party leaders have been pushing Christie to enter the race, saying his brand of New Jersey tough talk could put the White House within reach for the GOP.

Republican leaders from Henry Kissinger to House Speaker John Boehner have encouraged him to run.

And well-heeled GOP donors in New York have been spreading word that Christie has privately shown a willingness to consider it.

They say Christie might enter the race if he can get part of his pension-reform agenda passed in Trenton and score a GOP takeover of one of the Democratic-controlled houses of the state Legislature in November.

Christie spokesman Mike DuHaime said, "This is just wishful thinking . . . He is not running, and he is not cracking the door open even a little bit."

But, DuHaime said, the efforts of the Obama camp are flattering.

He said it's "an acknowledgment that Christie is a bold leader successfully taking on big challenges as governor. A leader who cuts spending and takes on the special interests tends to earn notice at the highest levels."

Top Dems applauded Team Obama's preparation.

"It would be irresponsible for them to not start looking at it," said a consultant who played a key role in Obama's 2008 campaign. "It would be malpractice for them not to."

Meanwhile, there were other developments for the GO{:

* Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels withdrew from the race for the presidential nomination.

* Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, announced a bid for the White House.

* Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is declaring his candidacy today, jumped the gun by releasing a video last night scooping his own announcement.

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