As I begin typing, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is an hour into his press conference, taking questions about the George Washington Bridge closings and he looks like he is prepared to talk as long as he last did — when he spoke for more than two hours on Jan. 9 — or perhaps go on all weekend.
Christie told ABC News's Diane Sawyer on Thursday that he is innocent, that his aides were stupid, that he didn't "inspire" the kind of culture that leads to the political retribution we now know was the reason behind the decision to close the nation's busiest bridge to traffic. He said that he is closer to his family, that he has learned so much, but that the tough guy is the same tough guy he always was. No matter that the investigation Christie believes exonerates him was commissioned by him, and was concluded before the state legislature has completed its probe and issued a report.
But politically, the timing is critical. Christie has spent months in silence while the campaign world assessed just how much damage the scandal had done to his former standing as Republican presidential frontrunner. But he is headed to Las Vegas, where GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson is hosting other presidential hopefuls at the Republican Jewish Coalition. Christie knows Adelson has him in his sights, as I noted in my column this week.
Christie told reporters he sure hasn't studied his schedule for his trip, that he will just be there to give a speech as the chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. Will he likely meet with donors there as RGA chair? Sure. But that doesn't mean he is running for president. What he is doing, clearly, is fighting hard to rehabilitate his standing with those donors, however, so that he can.
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