Since last November, Democrats have suggested that a complicated story involving traffic patterns on a bridge connecting New Jersey and New York demonstrated that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — the nominal, early front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination — is a vindictive bully unfit for higher office. On Wednesday, Democrats got some major ammunition for that effort in the form of emails from senior Christie administration officials that unveil a coordinated effort to punish a political rival and contradict denials from Christie and his aides that such an effort existed.
It turns out that Christie’s close aides and senior officials on his reelection campaign were involved with or aware of plans to choke off access to the George Washington Bridge, the northernmost of the Garden State’s three Hudson River crossings into Manhattan, at the foot of the bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., the Bergen Record reported Wednesday. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, was the apparent target of the campaign, and the snarled traffic is viewed by some as payback for Sokolich’s failure to endorse Christie for reelection. Christie won easily at the ballot last November, earning the support of some of the state’s Democratic officials along the way.
Christie has denied that his team was involved in changing the traffic patterns and that they were politically motivated, so Wednesday’s revelations pose threats to his image and credibility. Voters approved when Christie took on Democrats and their allies on the state budget, and they applauded when he berated members of his own party who opposed federal aid for Hurricane Sandy victims.
But Christie’s outspoken style poses risks for him in a presidential campaign. And a tale about intentionally diverted traffic, stranded commuters, and secret political payback might sound more “Jersey wiseguy” than presidential to a national audience. The Democratic National Committee is already out with a Web video — its third on the subject — in hopes of capitalizing on the growing controversy.
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Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."