Mitt Romney will extend a helping hand to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this week by appearing at a Feb. 27 fund-raiser for the Christie-led Republican Governors Association.
Romney's participation was confirmed Feb. 22. Meanwhile, Christie, keeping a low-profile in the nation's capital during a meeting of the National Governor's Association over the weekend, avoided reporters seeking comment on the scandal of his administration's role in intentionally creating gridlock for four days last September on access to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ.
Romney's speech this week helps him stay in the limelight and help fellow Republicans in case he runs in 2016 as a already vetted candidate.
Mostly, Romney helps former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a run for the 2016 by staving off scrutiny of Bush as a front-runner until Christie's almost inevitable collapse down the road as a viable contender. That downfall will come because of other and largely unreported scandals, as we have previously argued here.
The Justice Integrity Project does not cover routine political stories. In this case, however, my previous reporting on Christie and for the book Presidential Puppetry: Obama Romney and Their Masters provides important evidence missed by much of the mainstream media.
Most pertinent, as previously reported, are: The underlying strength of the Bush dynasty, whose scion Jeb is my prediction as the 2016 GOP nominee.
Romney is the most likely fallback choice because he is a known quantity from his races in 2008 and 2012 and has the backing of the powerful Mormon Church unless its power structure sees an opportunity to the otherwise longshot former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Conversely, Christie is highly vulnerable whenever his GOP rivals decide join vocal Democrats in undercutting him.
Before the knives come out, however, Republicans seeking mainstream support have every reason to stand with Christie. Until recently, Christie has fostered a rare blend of a common-man image coupled with faithful service to Wall Street and other elite interests behind the scenes.
The Washington Post reported of Thursday's fund-raiser for the Republican Governor's Association, "Romney will make remarks at an evening dinner and then huddle with Christie and donors....Romney associates said the former governor is looking forward to the gathering, which will be close to his home and a boost for Christie."
"They've stayed close since the election," according to the paper's quotation from Ron Kaufman, a former Romney adviser who will attend the private fundraiser. "Governor Christie was very good to Governor Romney during the presidential election, and Governor Romney was one of the first contributors to Governor Christie's reelection campaign. This will be a time for friends to come together and support all Republican governors."
Previous reporting here has indicated, as an overview, that almost all major candidates in both parties carry "baggage," otherwise known as fund-raising or other scandals that could be devastating if not criminal upon disclosure.
Bush, additionally, has the burden of the accumulated legacy of two previous Bush presidents and their family predecessors in public life. The negatives could outweigh the positives if Christie's already-serious problems rapidly escalate. This would transform Bush prematurely into a front-runner subject to long and potentially ruinous scrutiny even by the timid mainstream media. Therefore, it is much to Bush's advantage to keep Christie viable for next year or so despite pending federal and state investigations and a five-year probe of his record by former New Jersey State Assemblyman Louis Manzo being published in April under the title, Ruthless Ambition.
The country's major political pundits downplay the possibility of a Bush or Romney 2016 nomination for several reasons.
Bush and Romney are playing the waiting game, and thus do not provide hard evidence of a plan to run. As a professional courtesy, many political writers grant these formal announcements an importance they do not deserve.
Also, political writers tend to be focus on the excitement of the horse-race, not the underlying power structures that make viable a candidacy viable -- or a career in political reporting.
For readers and writers not so deferential, the real world of political intrigue is at least as entertaining -- and far more important -- than the made-up TV dramas currently popular because they fit popular perceptions of Washington without angering actual culprits.
Related News Coverage
Update: Washington Post, As Democrats avoid Obama, Romney is in demand on the midterm campaign trail, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Aug. 2, 2014. During a summer in which Democratic candidates are keeping their distance from an unpopular president, Mitt Romney is emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most in-demand campaign surrogates. Over three days in mid-August, Romney will campaign for GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidates in West Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas, aides said. In September, he is planning visits to the presidential swing states of Colorado and Virginia. Romney is filling up his October schedule, as well. Senate hopefuls in Iowa and New Hampshire are eager for him to return before November’s midterms, while Romney is weighing trips to other Senate battlegrounds. At least one high-profile Senate campaign said it has produced a television advertisement featuring Romney ready to air in the fall.
Al.com, It's decided then: AL.com readers choose Mitt Romney in online poll for the 2016 GOP nomination, Jim Stinson, July 7, 2014. The news that Republican Mitt Romney's poll numbers are better than President Barack Obama's -- while Obama's poll numbers are at new lows -- has apparently emboldened many former Mitt Romney supporters. Romney came in first in an online readers' poll. Not by a little, but by a lot. The readers' poll was based on findings from the Quinnipiac University poll, which surprised many. The Quinnipiac poll ranked Obama as the worst president since World War II. So we asked about his prospects in 2016. Mitt Romney ran away with it. He got 63.67 percent of the votes cast, or 936 votes. So he didn't get a plurality in a crowded field; he got a large majority. "Someone else" got 10.54 percent of the vote. Jeb Bush did poorly. The former Florida governor, brother of former President George W. Bush, came in third. Bush got 7.28 percent of the votes, or 107 votes. ll other named Republican candidates got less than 5 percent.
Washington Post, Bob Schieffer: Romney may consider 2016 run if Jeb Bush doesn’t, Wesley Lowery, April 27, 2014. Mitt Romney has said time and time again that he has no interest in running for president a third time. But, on Sunday morning, CBS' Bob Schieffer said not to write off the idea of a 2016 campaign by Romney so quickly. "I have a source that told me that if Jeb Bush decides not to run, that Mitt Romney may actually try it again," Schieffer said. During a political panel discussion, the "Face the Nation" host said that he has been told that Romney will consider seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016 if former Florida governor Jeb Bush chooses to sit the race out.
Washington Post, After years in the political wilderness, Bush family returns to the spotlight, Katie Zezima, April 4, 2014. The Bushes, one of America’s most prominent political dynasties, have spent the better part of the past few years under the radar after George W. Bush left office amid dismal approval ratings and as his father battled health problems. The family’s surge back into the spotlight comes at an opportune time. George H.W. Bush has seen his reputation morph during the past quarter century from a defeated one-term president who broke his promise on raising taxes to an esteemed leader who deftly steered the country out of the Cold War. The photo, via Wikimedia and Creative Commons, portrays the family in 2005 at the White House on the 60th wedding anniversary of George H.W. and Barbara Bush.
Washington Post, Mitt Romney returns to political stage as Republicans prepare for midterms, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, April 18, 2014. Mitt Romney’s long winter was over. After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority. Insisting he won’t seek the presidency again, Romney has endorsed at least 16 candidates this cycle, many of them establishment favorites who backed his campaigns.
Washington Post, Top Republicans court Jeb Bush for 2016 run, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, March 29, 2014. Conservative leaders, seeing problems with Chris Christie and fearing a run by Rand Paul, consider the former Florida governor the GOP’s brightest hope. Editor's Note: As predicted here months ago....
Washington Post, These are the GOP candidates who might benefit from Romney’s donors, Wesley Lowery, Feb. 28, 2013. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Rand Paul have the most buzz for 2016. Every single Romney donor we spoke with this week listed the former Florida governor as their top choice. Mitt Romney knows how to raise money. He collected more than $1.1 billion in the 2012 campaign, relying on contacts he built during his time as Massachusetts governor, head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, years working in private equity, and as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. And now, with Romney insisting that he will not run again in 2016, literally hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of Republican money is up for grabs -- and donors say that they are already being courted by several potential presidential candidates. The donors said that -- like Romney -- Bush's time as governor proved he can be an effective leader and manager. His willingness to tackle (or attempt to, at least) tough policy initiatives such as education and criminal justice reform remind them of Romney's work on health care at the state level.Also, with solid name recognition and the Bush political machine behind him, Romney donors believe Jeb is the most electable of the potential Republican candidates. For Romney donors, electability is the single most important trait.
Washington Post, Romney to fundraise with Christie for GOP governors, Robert Costa, Feb. 22, 2014. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will fundraise alongside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday in Boston. The joint appearance is a signal by Romney to the Republican establishment that he remains an ally of the embattled Garden State governor, whose administration has become engulfed by a bridge-closing scandal.
Justice Integrity Project, A Mitt Romney Nomination In 2016? Andrew Kreig, Feb. 9, 2014. Don't rule out a Mitt Romney presidential candidacy in 2016. Romney might prove to be the default candidate as in 2012 even though I predict Jeb Bush will win the nomination as a late entry.
Justice Integrity Project, Political, Legal Pressure Tightens For Christie, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 3, 2014. Political and legal pressure is tightening on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie following a former aide's claim Christie knew of the George Washington Bridge closing scandal last September.
Justice Integrity Project, How Christie’s Bridge Scandal Helps Jeb Bush Win in 2016, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 12, 2014. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a big winner so far in the political scandal and cover-up engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Hudson County TV, Ex-Secaucus Mayor’s daughter suing Governor Christie’s office, Staff report, March 18, 2014. The daughter of jailed former Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell has sued the office of New Jersey governor Chris Christie under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act to obtain potentially explosive “color coded” dossiers on the mayors, their political allies and opponents in at least 100 towns across the state. Alexis Serringer, the daughter of former Mayor Elwell, filed suit Monday in New Jersey State Superior Court, Mercer County. The lawsuit, filed by New York investigative lawyer Eric Dixon, is available at docket number L-00563-14 and captioned as Serringer v. Office of the Governor of the State of New Jersey. The dossiers, whose existence was first reported by the New York Times on January 29, 2014, were allegedly maintained by the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs within the Governor’s Office. The New York Times reported as follows: “Staff members in the governor’s office created tabbed and color-coded dossiers on the mayors of each town — who their friends and enemies were, the policies and projects that were dear to them — that were bound in notebooks for the governor to review in his S.U.V. between events.” According to Serringer’s lawyer Eric Dixon, this makes the dossiers “government records” which “must be produced” under state law.Washington Post, Republicans face 2016 turmoil, Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, Feb. 1, 2014. As Republicans look ahead to the 2016 presidential race, they are hoping to avoid the kind of chaotic and protracted nominating battle that dismayed party elders and damaged the eventual candidacy of Mitt Romney. Of all those being talked about — or talking themselves up — there is only one who could enter the race and immediately be declared the man to beat.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Newsweek, Break-in Reported at Project on Government Oversight, Jeff Stein, Feb. 21, 2014. The office of a major Washington, DC national security whistleblowers organization was broken into last week. The intruder or intruders left dozens of computers and other valuable office equipment untouched but jimmied open a file cabinet at the Project on Government Oversight, a private organization that has conducted several sensitive investigations in recent months, including a critical report on a controversial Pentagon leak investigation. For decades, the organization has demonstrated a knack for developing confidential sources for its reporting on government waste, fraud and abuse. POGO also publishes a vast, searchable database on the "revolving door" of executives between Wall Street and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is responsible for policing big financial institutions. POGO is the second national security whistleblowers group to encounter suspicious activity. Three years ago, in another heretofore unreported incident, burglars broke into the Washington offices of the Government Accountability Project, which offers legal support to whistleblowers -- including, since last summer, NSA leaker Edward Snowden. In the Jan. 6, 2011 incident, the burglars seemed interested in just a few of the computers among the dozen or so in the office.
Raw Story, Austin police drag jogger to car screaming after jaywalking without ID, John Byrne, Feb. 21, 2014. A Texas woman was dragged screaming to a police car in Austin, Texas after being arrested for failing to provide ID while jaywalking. The woman, pulled to a police car in gym clothes, was captured on video shouting, "I didn't do anything wrong." A University of Texas student filmed the police capturing the jogger and placing her in an officer's car. Police told the woman to provide identification, Chris Quintero remarked to the student newspaper. When she wouldn't, the officer grabbed her arm and placed her in handcuffs. "She repeatedly pleaded with them, saying that she was just exercising and to let her go," Quintero said. Quintero is heard in the video saying, "I saw you," after the woman calls across the street, saying, "I was doing nothing wrong. I was crossing the street."
Republic Report, Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks, Lee Fang, Feb. 18, 2014. Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show. Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year. Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration.