On a special election edition of MSNBC’s “All In” on Tuesday, “Hardball” anchor Chris Matthews said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had won re-election despite the fact that he has touched President Obama, whom Republicans usually reject on a “primitive…tribal” level.
“[C]hristie is known for physical — it seems so high school — physical contact with the president. We think of them not hugging or anything. They’re not bromance material or anything here, but they were actually walking together, been seen together. And then you have these terrible cases of people saying or somebody from South Carolina, I was ten feet from him the other day from the president and it made me sick. Or I told him to his face ‘I can’t stand looking at you,’ or ‘you lie’ — this almost physical rejection of him as an African-American, let’s be honest about it, whereas Christie hugs a guy, politically. You remember Charlie Crist gets knocked out of the Republican Party for physical contact with this president. It sounds so primitive, but it is tribal. The American system was to bring people together, not to break out into tribes and I think the Republican Party is doing that. Christie is not doing that. He is not tribal-ist. He doesn’t play that game.”
Show host Chris Hayes agreed to a certain agree about Matthews’ observation, and credited Christie’s response to Hurricane Sandy with the victory.
“The symbol of — I completely agree with the threshold moment for I think a lot of voters for Chris Christie and a hug and the president in the wake of Sandy — that image created a threshold that Chris Christie could get over in certain voters’ minds, no matter what the substance,” Hayes said. “It was ironic to me tonight that the government was invoking this period of Sandy. You know, if you look at the rebuilding in the state of New Jersey, there is a lot to not like about the record substantively of how they have rebuilt that state. I mean, you have $850 million in federal money and no one knows where it is going. They have had to sue them to find out.”