In truth, it was pretty weak to blame Christie, given the litany of Romney’s shortcomings, not to mention the fact that Christie had a decimated state to govern and shouldn’t have been thinking about electoral votes at that moment anyway.
But if the field of Republican hopefuls not named Donald Trump remains overcrowded and hopelessly muddled after this weekend, and if Trump himself cruises to another victory in South Carolina and ends up winning the nomination, a lot of those same Republican leaders may look back and conclude that it was Christie who cost them a victory yet again.
Christie, of course, departed from the race last week, with uncharacteristic silence, after finishing a disappointing sixth in the New Hampshire primary. He didn’t go quietly, though. In his final debate, three days before the primary, the former prosecutor gave us the campaign’s most memorable moment so far, gleefully taunting Marco Rubio as the Florida senator tried in vain to repeat his scripted talking points.
Christie, you see, didn’t like Rubio’s attacks on his record, and as anyone could see in that moment, he doesn’t much like Rubio, either. Rubio is boyish, glamorous, politically malleable and beloved for his inspiring story — all things for which Christie has a healthy dose of contempt, if not perhaps a hint of envy.
When Mitt Romney lost his presidential bid in 2012, a lot of senior Republicans blamed Chris Christie for cementing his defeat. At a critical moment that fall, you may remember, New Jersey’s governor had stood arm in arm with President Obama as they toured the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy, which seemed to undercut Romney’s entire argument about Obama being a divisive and incompetent leader.