The Buzz

January 9, 2014

BUZZ: Gov. Nikki Haley backs embattled N.J. Gov. Chris Christie + what Lindsey Graham thinks

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

Gov. Nikki Haley stuck up for her New Jersey counterpart, Chris Christie, who is getting heat after firing an aide who arranged traffic jams in a city where the mayor did not support the governor's re-election bid.

Christie said he had no idea his staff was involved.

Haley posted on Facebook on Thursday:

Reaction to her Facebook post was generally less the complimentary of Christie:

• "Governor Haley I love you to death but conservatives want nothing to do with Chris Christy (sic). I certainly don't believe him. My take is that Christy is another lying politician trying to save his career."
• "How can you say he took responsibility?? He claimed he knew nothing about it....yeah right. If he didn't know, he should have."
• "Please heed these comments. Most agree you should distance yourself from Christie."

S.C. Democrats had their own reaction noting controversies over the Haley administration's involvement in S.C. Department of Revenue hacking and tuberculosis outbreak in the Upstate (though Haley's office notes the state health agency is not part of her cabinet).:

"Nikki Haley defines leadership as cover-ups followed by excuses followed by blaming others in her own administration, and wouldn't know real accountability if it stood right in front of her," Democratic party spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie said.

Update: 'He's kind of a bully

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, said Christie's aides likely were acting in the way Christie manages his state office.

"It seems to me that this whole bridge thing reinforces a narrative that's troublesome about the guy, he's kind of a bully," Graham told NBC News.

The incident could hurt Christie in South Carolina if he runs for president in 2016: "I think he's going to have a hard time in the South, I really do. The edge is part of it. You know, he's a little too slick by half."

Later, however, Graham went from calling Christie a "bully" to calling his apology a "breath of fresh air," Graham told CNN -- the reversal occurring after Graham watched Christie's news conference.

Graham said he was impressed with Christie's "contrite nature in taking responsibility."

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