Romney’s Move Eases Christie’s Path A Bit, But GWB Probe Remains Potential Handicap

Mitt Romney is no longer an obstacle in Governor Christie’s pursuit of the Republican nomination for president.

But Paul Fishman, New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor, still remains in his path.

By most accounts, Romney’s announcement on Friday that he will not seek the GOP nomination in 2016 could be a help to Christie if he decides to take the plunge. Those mainstream donors loyal to Romney are now up for grabs for New Jersey’s governor — as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — to court and collect.

But Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey, could tip the balance as he winds up his yearlong criminal investigation of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

But Christie allies expect Republicans who are supportive of the governor to shrug off the bridge issue, even with indictments. Christie’s aggressive offensive over the past year has fostered the impression outside of New Jersey that he has already been exonerated or that Democrats have been conducting a political witch hunt.

“As long as it doesn’t pin the tail on him, he’s going to be fine,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Obviously everyone else is going to take issue, ‘Well, you can’t control your staff.’ He can respond, ‘Are you electing them or are you electing me?’"

Read more from Charles Stile at NorthJersey.com

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Analysis & Political Strategy