November 11, 2013

(h/t Heather at VideoCafe)

When "Double Down" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin was released, the Village was seemingly obsessed with the non-story of President Obama not choosing to replace Joe Biden as his vice president with Hillary Clinton. Segment after segment was devoted to it, even though nothing actually ever happened --other than an alleged floating of an idea that was quickly dismissed.

But what was much more curious to me was the very studious refusal to connect the dots on the oppo research done by the Romney campaign on prospective veep candidate Chris Christie. While the general consensus amongst the Villagers was that Romney felt threatened by Christie's larger-than-life persona and felt repulsed by Christie's size.

But Heilemann and Halperin actually documented some serious issues about Christie that you would think might hurt his chances at a presidential run. What disqualified him for the vice-presidency certainly should equally be of issue for his prospective 2016 run, but do you see anyone making that connection?

STEPHANOPOULOS: John, how many -- something remarkable happened in your book. I mean, the entire vetting file -- we just talked to Chris Christie about it -- from the vice presidential search for Mitt Romney leaked you guys. You heard his response right there, not worried about another round of scrutiny even though he knows it's coming if he decides to run for president.

JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, he's smart enough to know it's coming. You know, what we reported on in the book is that there were -- the Governor Romney's team looked at him really closely for vice president. They looked at a series of things that are in the public record, but that most people in national politics don't know, the fact that for a period of time he was a lobbyist, and a lobbyist for the Securities industry association when it was run by Bernie Madoff, the fact that Justice Department inspector general investigated him for expense account abuse and was very critical of him.

A lot of things that are out there again just below the surface, people don't really know about them. And there were a series of other things that they wanted from Chris Christie that he was not forthcoming, in their view, about, things like his health records, things like his other lobby clients, things like a defamation lawsuit that had been filed against him, his brother who is involved in an investment scandal.

There was a lot of stuff they wanted from him that he didn't turn over.

The one thing he said on the interview today that was not factually true is that Governor Romney was not affected by those things. In fact, when he got the full document, the vetting dossier that we reported about and then quote from in the book, that was the day when Governor Romney looked at [the] dossier and pulled the plug on Chris Christie.

He thought that the full range of issues were a lot of potential land mines and there were a lot of unanswered questions.

By the way, that "expense abuse" accusation? That included a possible mistress:

On top of all that, the report about Christie’s expenses “raised questions for the vetters about Christie’s relationship with a top female deputy who accompanied him on many of the trips.” That detail, published in the book but not the excerpts, seems very potentially troublesome.

Not that I liked his actual choice any better, but there were very good reasons why Romney didn't think Christie would be a good choice for Vice President, despite his canny political skill. Those same reasons should disqualify him for president as well, if only the Villagers would stop ignoring them.

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