Bridge-gate: Why Conservatives Are Now Embracing Chris Christie

After being snubbed last year, embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been invited to speak next month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC – the biggest conservative confab of the year.

Governor Christie, under intense pressure over the ongoing “Bridge-gate” scandal, was also embraced over the weekend by top Republicans appearing on Sunday talk shows. On ABC News, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin called Christie a “fantastic governor.” And both he and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana (appearing on CNN) said Christie should stay on as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Even some of the most conservative lights, who typically ridicule Christie as a “RINO” – a Republican in Name Only – have managed at times to come down on Christie’s side since Bridge-gate broke last month. Fox News host Sean Hannity has defended Christie’s use of hurricane Sandy relief money.

This circling of the wagons is “a sign that conservatives and Republicans may not be ready to give up on Christie just yet,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the Civic Forum PAC. “Frankly, the heat he is taking in the press as a result of Bridge-gate has endeared him to some conservatives.”

In addition, Christie knows that if he is going to survive the public opinion battle over Bridge-gate, “he’s going to need conservatives on his side,” O’Connell adds. “This is about mending fences on both sides.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Analysis & Political Strategy