Report: White House 'Convinced' Booker Not to Challenge Christie
The White House allegedly encouraged -- or pressured -- Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker to forego challenging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 and instead run for the state's Senate seat in 2014. Booker announced on Thursday he would be exploring a run for New Jersey's Senate seat in 2014.
A senior New Jersey Democrat told BuzzFeed the “White House weighed and convinced him to run for the Senate” because “they viewed him as an asset that they didn't want to tarnish, and they wanted him in the Senate."
The Democrat said "the Obama administration appears to have started reaching out to Booker at the beginning of December": "Cory's hard to read, but when you have the White House and a collection of other people all saying the same thing to you, it becomes very hard to ignore. The establishment of the party was saying, 'Cory, don't run, you're gonna lose,'"
Christie benefits greatly from Booker's announcement. He not only does not have to face-off against the candidate that would have been his toughest opponent, but, with Booker not in the running, Christie will not have to lurch as far to the left in his reelection campaign as he would have had Booker challenged him. This means Christie, whom conservatives have already criticized for being too moderate, will be better positioned in the Republican presidential primary in 2016 should he choose to run for president.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Booker irked, to put put it mildly, the Obama campaign when he went on NBC's "Meet The Press" and said the Obama campaign's attacks on private equity were "nauseating." The White House immediately forced Booker to walk those comments back in a YouTube video.
Christie, though, after keynoting the Republican National Convention, helped the Obama administration by embracing Obama when Obama visited New Jersey in Hurricane Sandy's wake. This moment allowed the partisan Obama to be perceived as more bipartisan than he had been during his first term in office in the last -- and critical -- week of the campaign.
Christie's approval numbers also improved after he embraced Obama. After Hurricane Sandy, Christie had a 72% approval rating at the end of November, which was a New Jersey record. However, even as his favorability was at its peak, he only received 53% of the vote to Booker's 35% in a hypothetical 2013 contest, which Quinnipiac polled. Booker cited this often as a sign of Christie's weakness against him in a potential 2013 race against him, which he ultimately decided to avoid.