'Big Three' Throw Cold Water on Chris Christie’s Iowa Visit: ‘A Long Way From The George Washington Bridge’

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) visited Iowa on Wednesday to help raise money for Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) and test the 2016 political waters but the “big three” networks did their best to diminish his visit to the Hawkeye state. 

Starting with NBC Nightly News on Wednesday night, anchor Brian Williams introduced a story on Christie by playing up how “the New York Times calls the trip a delicate post lane closing political strategy for the governor who has been hurt by the G.W. Bridge scandal back home in New Jersey.” [See video below.]

NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell went on to proclaim that “despite the toll taken by scandal on his national image...Today, Governor Chris Christie put his New Jersey spin on a reboot of his presidential chances.” O’Donnell ended her report by once again promoting the notion that the George Washington Bridge scandal could have dire consequences for his political future:

Seen as a moderate, Christie's shot at the GOP nomination had already been viewed skeptically by the far right. Then his crossover appeal was damaged by the bridge lane closure controversy. Top aides were ousted, state and federal investigations are still underway. Christie's denied any wrongdoing. 

During an appearance on NBC’s Today on Thursday, Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, Chief White House Correspondent and host of The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, ignored the G.W. Bridge scandal but excitedly showed off Christie’s unfavorable ratings in Iowa:

Chris Christie starts out as the most unpopular Republican among Iowa republicans thinking about running for president...this all has to do with the fact that he’s just not seen as a true conservative by conservatives. They don't like that he hung out with President Obama during Sandy. They don't like things like how he's appointed people to judges and things like that. So, that's really the hole he's got to dig out of in Iowa.

What Todd failed to mention is that same NBC News/Marist poll has Christie is statistically tied with Hillary Clinton, 44% to 43% in Iowa. Instead, the focus of Todd’s report was his unpopularity among Republicans. 

ABC and CBS took NBC’s lead and continued to minimize Christie’s political future. On Good Morning America, Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, also took a swipe at Christie’s trip to Iowa noting that “Iowa’s a long way from the George Washington Bridge.” On CBS This Morning, during the end of a news brief on Chris Christie, fill-in anchor Margaret Brennan reminded her audience that “Christie still faces an investigation in New Jersey over a scheme to shutdown access to the George Washington Bridge.” 

See relevant transcripts below. 


NBC

Today 

July 17, 2014

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And now to the new NBC News poll showing just how tight the race for president could be. This as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie heads to Iowa later today. Obviously a critical early voting state. Could he be dipping his toe in those presidential waters?

NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd is here this morning who has more on that and that new poll. Chuck, good morning to you. And let's start right there with Chris Christie. I mean your poll is showing a very crowded Republican field and some really yellow flags for Christie. 

CHUCK TODD: A ton. You know, there’s a reason, if he's going to run for president, then he’s got a lot of work to do and he needs to be sitting in Iowa quite a bit. The best way to measure right now the standing of the Republican Party and the standing of these candidates with Republican voters in Iowa is to look at unfavorable ratings. Well look at this. Chris Christie starts out as the most unpopular Republican among Iowa republicans thinking about running for president.

We put them in the order here. Paul is seen as sort of the most popular but Christie the least popular. And Savannah as you know, this all has to do with the fact that he’s just not seen as a true conservative by conservatives. They don't like that he hung out with President Obama during Sandy.  They don't like things like how he's appointed people to judges and things like that. So, that's really the hole he's got to dig out of in Iowa.

GUTHRIE: Let's go to the Democratic side. Again, you're polling Iowa and New Hampshire, those critical early voting states. Boy, you’ve got a lopsided result when you had Hillary Clinton against the sitting Vice President Joe Biden. 

TODD: You do. And look, maybe it's not a surprise to people that Hillary Clinton is running away with this, but remember, Iowa was the beginning of her end of that first presidential campaign where Barack Obama caught her. This time her numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire are better now than we've ever seen them before. Democrats are ready for Hillary. Now, are independents and swing voters in these states? That's another question. 

GUTHRIE: And we ask you that question because when you do a general election match-up with Hillary Clinton and another Republican candidate, you see a much tighter race. 

TODD: I do. And look who we match her up with. We matched her up with a whole bunch of these folks. Christie, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, you name it. But the person that does the best against Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire is Rand Paul. Look at this here. He ties her in Iowa.  It’s a three-point race in New Hampshire. And Savannahs, I think this is an important point here, people talk about Jeb Bush, people talk about Chris Christie on the Republican side. The actual Republican front-runners right now at the start of this race, Rand Paul. 

GUTHRIE: All-right Chuck Todd, I know you’re excited. Just a mere 15 months away till those early votes. 

TODD: Hey, hey, hey. Don’t make fun. 

GUTHRIE: Thank you. 

 

NBC 

NBC Nightly News

July 16, 2014

BRIAN WILLIAMS: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is heading to Iowa tomorrow the place where politicians go to test their presidential chances. The “New York Times” calls the trip a delicate post lane closing political strategy for the governor who has been hurt by the G.W. Bridge scandal back home in New Jersey. A new NBC News/Marist poll found that Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire view him more negatively than all other GOP presidential prospects. We get our report tonight from NBC's Kelly O’Donnell. 

KELLY O’DONNELL: Despite the toll taken by scandal on his national image. 

CHRIS CHRISTIE: If you're really awful, no one's asking. 

O’DONNELL: Today, Governor Chris Christie put his New Jersey spin on a reboot of his presidential chances. 

CHRISTIE: It's such an awful burden to be asked if you want to be leader of the free world. It's terrible. 

O’DONNELL: At an investor’s conference hosted by CNBC, Christie enjoyed the 2016 speculation both swatting it away. 

CHRISTIE: Cuz, you know, you were obnoxious enough to ask again so I might as well give you something. 

O’DONNELL: And giving it oxygen. 

CHRISTIE: The fact is that you should be ware of people in my opinion, who are overanxious to make that decision before they need to. That would, it seem, indicate to me ambition before wisdom. 

O’DONNELL: Take note of Christie's travel schedule. Tomorrow he makes multiple stops across Iowa. And later this month New Hampshire. As head of the Republican Governors Association, Christie is going to raise money for GOP candidates. But he can also test his personal standing with voters. Seen as a moderate, Christie's shot at the GOP nomination had already been viewed skeptically by the far right. Then his crossover appeal was damaged by the bridge lane closure controversy. Top aides were ousted, state and federal investigations are still underway. Christie's denied any wrongdoing. 

CHRISTIE: Someone went rogue on my watch. Now listen, I'm accountable for that. 

O’DONNELL:  His trips to Iowa and New Hampshire may determine how big a political price Chris Christie pays. Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News, Washington.   

 

ABC

Good Morning America

July 17, 2014

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to turn to President Obama slapping new sanctions on Russia for the crisis in Ukraine. Some of the most punishing measures yet and this morning Vladimir Putin is saying he'll strike back just as hard. ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl has the latest. Good morning, Jon. 

JONATHAN KARL: Good morning, George. These are sanctions designed to inflict some real economic pain on Russia. They hit two of the largest Russian energy companies, two of the largest Russian banks and it comes just as Russia has amassed some 12,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and the White House is worried that there could be further problems in that country. Now George, the Russians are saying Putin himself saying this is actually going to hurt the U.S. economy. Exxon Mobil has deals with one of these big energy companies and the Kremlin has denounced these sanctions as a primitive attempt to take vengeance for the fact that events in Ukraine are not going according to the Washington script. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, he's taking a broadside against President Obama's foreign policy. I want to switch gears now to politics, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie putting his toe back in the presidential waters heading to Iowa after that traffic scandal. No official announcement but he’s got a full schedule. 

KARL: Yes, and Iowa’s a long way from the George Washington Bridge. You know, officially this is simply an effort to help Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in his re-election. But George it sure looks like a testing the waters for a presidential run kind of trip and guess what, he's going to New Hampshire later this month. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, July 31st. He’s got some decent poll numbers in Iowa, as well. Okay, Jon, thanks very much. 

 

CBS 

CBS This Morning 

July 17, 2014 

MARGARET BRENNAN: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visits Iowa this morning. He calls it a fund-raising trip for fellow Republicans. Others believe he's exploring his own chances in a key presidential campaign state.. In an interview yesterday, Christie said he’s only thinking about running for president. 

UNKNOWN PERSON: When do you think you would have to decide?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: End of this year or beginning of next. Decide in my own head. Now, whether I would tell you or anyone else at that point I’m not so sure about the timing of that. That’s more of a political judgment than it is a core judgment about whether you really want to do that or not. But I’ve been pretty clear. I certainly am going to consider it but whether I do it or not is something I honestly don't know yet.

BRENNAN: The Iowa caucuses are about 18 months away. Christie still faces an investigation in New Jersey over a scheme to shutdown access to the George Washington Bridge. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.