Chris Christie courted further controversy on Sunday … by attending a football game in Wisconsin. The New Jersey governor and presumed candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 was spotted near the Dallas 35-yard line as the Cowboys warmed up for an against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Christie posed for pictures and greeted the Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, with whom he shared after Dallas beat Detroit last weekend. That embrace, which also included Jones’s son Stephen, became a social-media sensation, not only over Christie’s arguably inappropriate choice of football team, his fanboy behaviour, his “lucky” orange sweater or , but also over the propriety of his trip to the game .
Jones is part-owner of a hospitality company that a lucrative Port Authority contract. The Port Authority, which governs travel between New York and New Jersey, is jointly overseen by Christie and the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
On Sunday, Christie wore a dark overcoat as he patrolled the Green Bay sidelines. His lucky orange sweater – which he had worn for five straight Cowboys victories – appeared to be underneath the coat. The governor’s office told the Associated Press he would watch the game from a box with Jones. Hours later the sweater’s spell had been broken, to advance to the NFC Championship game.
On Tuesday, Christie will deliver his state of the state address in Trenton. At the end of a week in which it also emerged that the governor was investigating last year’s “Bridgegate” scandal, some observers think he will take a chance to attempt to reset his image as governor and possible presidential candidate.
This week also brought news that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has failed twice to win the presidency, is thinking of . Romney would present Christie with another competitor for backing from the Republican establishment, alongside the former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is openly preparing his bid for the nomination.
In polls regarding the potential Republican primaries for 2016, Bush holds a constant lead over Christie. Romney also scores well, .
Ben Dworkin, who studies New Jersey policy at Rider University, told Reuters Christie could use his state of the state speech “try to regain some momentum and frame his tenure, both for the audience as well as the national audience”.
Dworkin said Bridgegate, in which Christie aides are alleged to have orchestrated traffic closures on the busy George Washington bridge between New Jersey and Manhattan as political payback against the Democrat mayor of Fort Lee, “effectively made 2014 a giant missed opportunity”.
Christie has twice been in the scandal.
He is expected to concentrate in his state of the state speech on economic issues, including the success of efforts to repair physical and economic damage done to the state by Hurricane Sandy, which struck coastal areas in October 2012. Some said then that images of Christie touring affected areas in the company of President Barack Obama boosted Romney’s rival in the race for the White House.
“Christie has cultivated an image of being the atypical politician,” Dworkin said. “He is a reformer, he is able to get things done with Democrats but still be a strong conservative. He doesn’t look like or sound like anybody else out there.
“What issues like Bridgegate and the Jerry Jones gifts provide is an opportunity for Christie’s opponents to paint him as the opposite, as a very typical politician.”