Chris Christie's media backers may have finally willed his floundering campaign to the comeback they've been roaring on about for months, even if none of the polls prove it, by generating just the boost they've said he's needed to jumpstart his presidential bid -- an endorsement from New Hampshire's largest paper.
Since 1980, every candidate the New Hampshire Union Leader has endorsed saw an average 11 point bump in the polls, until the paper endorsed New Gingrich in 2012. Despite the healthy bump a Union Leader endorsement provides, it doesn't always result in a win for the candidate. In 2000, the paper endorsed Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan twice before that. Still, the paper's somewhat surprising decision to back a back of-the-pack candidate when other higher polling candidates fit his supposedly "moderate" profile, has helped Christie grab headlines trumpeting a possible Christie surge.
To be sure, Christie has paid the state a considerable amount of attention. According to Politico, the New Jersey governor has made 49 visits to the Granite State where he has held 36 town halls and more than 112 events. Star-Ledger editorial page editor Tom Moran described the Union Leader endorsement as pushing Christie into "contender" status in the state but when the New Jersey journalist dialed up his fellow editorial board member at the Union Leader to get a better grasp of why they selected Christie, he came to one conclusion: "it's all about performance, not substance."
"The paper knows almost nothing about his record as governor," Moran wrote in his own scathing op-ed taking down the Union Leader's endorsement of Christie. "I just got off the phone with the Union-Leader's editorial page editor, a very nice guy by the name of Grant Bosse," Moran explained, chiding the paper for neglecting Christie's record as governor of New Jersey in favor of "his visit to the editorial board."
"That's a dangerous game when it comes to a slick character like our governor," Moran warned:
Take Bridgegate. The editorial made no mention of it. "It has nothing to do with the governor," Bosse says.
It's possible Christie didn't know about the lane closures or the cover-up. But this is a governor whose cabinet members don't go to the bathroom without his permission. At a minimum, these were his senior appointees.
How about pension reform? The board in Manchester did not know that Christie broke his core promise on that by skipping pension payments. "I don't know if we went into the weeds on pension reform," Bosse said.
The editorial said he "dealt admirably" with Sandy. That would come as a shock to the actual victims, 60 percent of whom say they are dissatisfied with the state's response.
On jobs, the paper saw no reason to check Christie's dismal record. "Politicians don't create jobs, so we didn't want to give that any credibility," Bosse said.
How about the nine credit downgrades on Christie's watch as governor?
"That largely stems from the fact that while he's been successful holding back tax increases, he hasn't been as successful in restraining spending. Credit agencies like taxes. They don't reward states for fiscal discipline."