As mentioned here on a number of occasions, if Chris Christie decides to run for president (as it appears he will), he’s got a lot of ground to make up given his frankly terrible public opinion standing and his iffy reputation among conservatives. And now he’s got another problem, though it could be just a small glitch: at a time when GOPers are trying to shown some solidarity with the Great Unwashed, Christie’s getting ink for craving the finer things in life at the expense of dubious benefactors, per a poisonous article in the New York Times from Kate Zernike and Michael Barbaro:
As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey waited to depart on a trade mission to Israel in 2012, his entourage was delayed by a late arrival: Mr. Christie’s father, who had accidentally headed to the wrong airport.
A commercial flight might have left without him, but in this case, there was no rush. The private plane, on which Mr. Christie had his own bedroom, had been lent by Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and supporter of Israel. At the time, he was opposing legislation then before the governor to legalize online gambling in New Jersey.
Mr. Christie loaded the plane with his wife, three of his four children, his mother-in-law, his father and stepmother, four staff members, his former law partner and a state trooper.
King Abdullah of Jordan picked up the tab for a Christie family weekend at the end of the trip. The governor and two staff members who accompanied him came back to New Jersey bubbling that they had celebrated with Bono, the lead singer of U2, at three parties, two at the king’s residence, the other a Champagne reception in the desert. But a small knot of aides fretted: The rooms in luxurious Kempinski hotels had cost about $30,000; what would happen if that became public?
It did not, for the moment. But it would not have been the first or last time that Mr. Christie’s desire for celebrity access and expensive trips has raised eyebrows.
“Champagne reception in the desert,” eh? It’s not a car elevator, but still…. Such tales on top of the persistent image (persistent because he’s a fan of the most hated sports franchise this side of the Yankees) of Christie high-fiving Jerry Jones in a Dallas Cowboys skybox will continue to “raise eyebrows.”
And it seems there’s plenty of colorful travel stories to explore:
Mr. Christie’s foreign travel has helped him build his credentials and his contacts as he prepares to run for president. Choose N.J. [a foreign investment promotion outfit appointed by Christie that includes companies doing business with the state] sounded dubious in a report last year about enticing business from Britain. Interest was strongest, it found, from Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden and Switzerland. But London is a prime market for fund-raising among American expatriates: In 2012, President Obama and Mitt Romney raised more money in Britain than in any other foreign country.
While previous New Jersey governors have flown commercial for trade missions, Mr. Christie flew privately for three. (His spokeswoman said he flew commercial to London.) He has taken family on all. He stays in five-star properties: the King David in Jerusalem, the Intercontinental in Mexico City. The hotel in London, the Corinthia, has a Baccarat chandelier and masses of flowers refreshed every morning.
No, you don’t get the sense Christie has to put bread bags on his shoes to protect them from the winter weather as he’s traveling to and fro. And you’d better bet his expensive tastes and questionable sidekicks will be discussed in Iowa living rooms by agents of his rivals.