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First choice: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie believed he was going to be Mitt Romney's running mate
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was Mitt Romney’s first choice as a running mate before Romney had a sudden change of heart and dumped him for Paul Ryan.
Christie was miffed by Romney’s decision, particularly because he was led to believe in the weeks leading up to Ryan’s introduction that he would be joining Romney on the Republican presidential ticket, Politico reported, citing conversations with ‘campaign insiders.’
Now Republican party bosses suspect Christie's momentary embrace of Barack Obama during the President's tour of devastated New Jersey this week was a deliberate snub to Romney.
Christie was vetted so hard by the Romney campaign in July that even some of Romney’s top advisers believed the New Jersey governor was the final choice as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
But Romney changed his mind over the course of two weeks this summer, advisers told Politico, and instead offered the job to Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin.
Romney was attracted to Christie for his unfiltered style that has helped turn him into rising star – albeit a controversial one -- within the Republican Party.
The explosive New Jersey native has a propensity toward swearing, making him a bit of a liability for Romney, but he also has a knack for appealing to middle class voters, with whom Romney has had a hard time connecting.
At a campaign event for Romney in Iowa last December, Christie bullied 'Occupy' protestors out of a rally, leading Romney supporters to start chanting Christie's name as they cheered with approval.
'You know what, we’re used to dealing with jokers like this in New Jersey all the time,' Christie shouted at the protesters as they were led out of the rally by Romney staffers. 'So you guys go all out and chant and do what it is that you want to do.
'You are so angry, aren’t ya?' Christie badgered. 'It’s so terrible... Oh work it out. Work it all out for yourselves. Work it all out for yourselves.'
Quiet retaliation: Christie embraced President Obama this week during a tour of the wreckage in New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, leading some to believe he was retaliating against Romney
Bipartisan courtship: 'We're both doing what we wanted to do, which is to get things done,' Christie said of Obama this week
In the end, it wasn’t Christie’s bombast that drove Romney away: It was his disregard for Romney as the man at the top of ticket.
Christie would consistently arrive late at campaign events that he was attending on behalf of Romney and he would spend the majority of his speaking time on himself, not the Republican presidential candidate.
Romney advisers began to think that Christie wouldn’t know how to be a ‘number two’ and they suddenly stopped vetting him without explanation just before Romney’s trip to Europe over the summer.
When Romney returned, he offered the job to Ryan and waited another week to let Christie know, just shortly before announcing his pick publicly.
Christie has since been quietly retaliating against the Romney campaign for his sudden fall from favor, political analysts say.
Christie made news for his scarce mentions of Romney during his speech at the Republican National Convention.
Campaigning: Chris Christie and Mitt Romney talking to voters in New Hampshire. Romney changed his mind about putting the New Jersey Governor on the Republican ticket
‘His view was, “They saw the speech before I gave it. They vetted it. They said it was fine,”’ a Romney adviser told Politico. ‘And the campaign’s view was, “We told him that we thought there were more opportunities for him to put in stuff about Mitt, and he didn’t take the hint.”
There was a lot of agitation that led to a lot of sarcasm and the kind of comments that people don’t mean, but they kind of do.’
Christie heaped praise on Obama after he was invited onto Air Force One to tour the wreckage left behind by the storm.
‘This was as comfortable and relaxed an interaction as I’ve had with the president since I’ve known him,’ Christie said. ‘And I think it’s ’cause we’re both doing what we wanted to do, which is to get things done.’
Christie said he expected to be criticized for complimenting the president.
‘But you know what, I speak the truth,’ he said. ‘That’s what I always do. Sometimes you guys like it, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes politicians like it, sometimes they don’t. But I say what I feel and what I believe.
'And I’m just doing the same thing with the president of the United States. So, I do pinch myself every day. You know, like when I got on Marine One? I’m pinching myself, believe me.’