What’s Chris Christie up to?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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With six days to go before Election Day, The Hill reports that President Obama will appear with Chris Christie, “who will be giving the president a tour of the damage in his state in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.”

New Jersey is a blue state, but this sends a pretty strong message, nationally. As Salon’s Steve Kornacki opines: “This is exactly the sort of cross-partisan boost that candidates dream of receiving in a race’s final days, especially a race as close as this one.”

Coming on the heels of Christie’s tweet which said, “I don’t give a damn about Election Day after what has happened here,” Christie’s over-the-top embrace of Obama has many observers scratching their heads.

It’s important to put things in context. New Jersey was slammed with a deadly storm, and President Obama has — by all counts — executed his duties appropriately. New Jersey is obviously seeking federal assistance, and regardless, Christie should be gracious and respectful to the president.

The question is whether — with just days left before Election Day — Christie should have gone out of his way to lavish praise on Obama, and to provide him with a terrific photo-op for which to look presidential.

When Christie says he doesn’t “give a damn about Election Day,” that is also concerning — assuming he believes there are clear differences between the two candidates. While nobody should discount the seriousness of the storm — or Christie’s responsibility to his constituents — electing the leader of the free world has serious consequences, too.

Is Christie really saying that the plight of his state today outweighs the seriousness of electing a President of the United States of America for four years?

So why is he doing this?

There are several theories. Some people believe Christie is just being Christie. That he’s always over-the-top, and so this is consistent with his behavior.

A less plausible theory is that Christie is trying to sink Romney so that he can run for president, himself, in 2016.

Others believe Christie is completely focused on his gubernatorial re-election in 2013. As a Republican running in a blue state, it is understandable that he would take his re-election very seriously.

But again, isn’t it possible to be serious and respectful and thankful without becoming a prop for Obama’s re-election? (The issue here is about the degree to which he is going out of his way to help Obama politically — and the context of the timing.)

These variables may all factor into Christie’s thinking. But my guess is that there is something more at play here.

Christie was one of Romney’s earliest and most forceful endorsers and defenders. He gave a primetime keynote address at the Republican National Convention.

Based on his past support for Romney, it seems inconsistent that — with just six days to go before Election Day — Christie would now suddenly downplay the importance of the presidential election, and help bolster Obama’s re-election chances.

So what’s up? Is Christie angry he was passed over for vice president? Has he resigned himself to Romney’s defeat? Or is something else afoot?

At some level, my guess is there must have been a Christie/Romney schism. Anything else seems implausible.

Matt K. Lewis