Idaho GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who held a December campaign fundraiser with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the headliner, says he has no reason to believe Christie knew about his staff”s traffic jam plan and that if Christie is cleared of foreknowledge of the payback scheme his stock as a 2016 presidential candidate may rise.
“I think there’s probably going to be some help if he comes out of this without any knowledge of the bridge closure,” Otter said Wednesday. “So far, I haven’t seen anything that would suggest to me that he did have any knowledge.”
When Christie campaigned for Otter in Coeur d’Alene last month, he urged Republicans to get behind Otter right away in his Republican primary race against Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian.
Christie played on his reputation as tough guy in remarks to a crowd of 350, as reported by the Coeur d’Alene Press.
“Now, if you don’t, you are going to see the other Chris Christie,” he said. “You know the guy you see on YouTube on occasion, or the guy who has some fairly candid exchanges with his people.
“I will be back with a Jersey attitude and that’s not pretty,” Cristie said. “I’ll tell you the truth, you don’t want me back here angry.”
Otter said Wednesday that while Christie’s staff acted wrongly and recklessly. “I feel for him,” Otter said.
But Otter added that the motives of Democrats pressing the matter are suspect because they seek to damage a strong presidential candidate.
“I can’t look at any of that stuff without recognizing that somebody’s worried about where he is in the polls,” Otter said. “I’m sorry, I have maybe a jaundiced eye that way.”
Otter said that if any of his staff attempted to retaliate against a political foe, “I wouldn’t have ‘em very long.”
Asked if he imagined tricks he might play on Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, a Democrat, Otter said such a thought has never crossed his mind.
“Why would I want to do anything to Dave Bieter?” Otter said. “Dave and I are friends.”
Added Otter’s spokesman, Jon Hanian: “Nice try.”