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04 Feb 2014

White House
Who's the winner?
How high school explains Chris Christie’s problems
February 3 at 6:30 am
Chris Christie loves to mix it up -- this much we know. Whether it's teachers, the news media or even a law student, the New Jersey governor's combative side is at the core of his reputation as a politician.
It's also part of the reason his bridge scandal has flared up again.
Video: Christie booed at Super Bowl ceremony
News broke Friday about a former Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who claims to know of evidence that Christie hasn't been entirely honest about what he knew and when about the lane closures in Fort Lee, N.J., in September. The allegation from David Wildstein poured fuel on the fire of a scandal that has been somewhat quiet in recent weeks and sparked a renewed round of doomsday predictions for the Republican governor's political career.
But Wildstein's antagonistic relationship with Christie is hardly a one-way street.
At a nearly two-hour news conference, Christie notably distanced himself from Wildstein, disputing reports that the two of them were high school friends -- or close at all, really.
"You know, I was the class president and athlete," Christie said. "I don't know what David was doing during that period of time."
Christie then proceeded to denounce Wildstein in no uncertain terms, citing his "callous indifference" about the four-day traffic snarl in Fort Lee in e-mails and text messages turned over to investigators. Christie called Wildstein's conduct "over the top and outrageous."
Flash forward to Saturday, the day after Wildstein alleged that damning evidence against Christie exists.
The Christie team's response? Going back to high school.
In a lengthy background document distributed by the governor's office, it was noted that a 16-year-old Wildstein once "sued over a local school board election" and that his high school social studies teacher accused him of "deceptive behavior."
That's right, folks. Christie's office is seeking to discredit Wildstein using evidence ... from high school.
Regardless of whether you think that's below the belt -- and several folks on the Sunday shows seemed to think it was -- it's definitely bare-knuckle politics.
Now, Wildstein was never going to be Christie's ally in this whole matter. Everyone involved is in self-preservation mode, and for Wildstein, providing information about Christie could potentially help him personally -- something Christie's office noted Saturday.
But in these kinds of situations, there's a difference between throwing someone under a bus and running them over with that same bus based on information from high school.
In Wildstein, Christie's take-no-prisoners style has created a bitter enemy who now has an extra incentive to take him down.
Christie might have already thought that Wildstein was out to get him, and he might not think Wildstein has the goods to make it happen. But he has virtually assured that Wildstein is going to try.
A Christie aide who has been subpoenaed left his office on Friday.
Christie will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next month.
Bill O'Reilly grills President Obama on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Hillary Rodham Clinton dings Fox after Obama's interview.
Top Republicans aren't calling for Christie to step down from his chairmanship at the Republican Governors Association.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says immigration reform is "clearly in doubt" this year.
Ryan criticizes Obama as having "lawless" presidency.
Mitt Romney, who famously raised concerns about the safety of the London Olympics during the 2012 presidential campaign, says he thinks Sochi will be safe.
"HealthCare.gov can’t handle appeals of enrollment errors" -- Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post
"Study: Abortion rate at lowest point since 1973" -- Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post
 "Cindy McCain's crusade" -- Lucy McCalmont, Politico
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the paper’s Post Politics and The Fix blogs. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. He joined the Post in 2010. Aaron, his wife, Danielle, and his dog, Mauer, live in Northern Virginia. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronBlakeWP.
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