- (Photo: REUTERS / Adam Hunger)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was Mitt Romney's first choice for the Republican ticket but the GOP nominee switched to Paul Ryan in a span of about two weeks, according to a detailed account provided by campaign insiders.
The campaign's top advisers at the Boston headquarters thought in late July that Gov. Christie had been offered the job, and the campaign had even made tentative plans to make an announcement before Romney's trip to the London Olympics and other nations, Politico quoted anonymous campaign insiders as saying.
However, shortly before leaving for the Olympics, Romney "paused" the decision. The day after returning from his overseas trip, the Republican candidate settled on Ryan and formally offered him the job within a week.
"Mitt liked him [Ryan] because he saw him as a street fighter," a Romney official was quoted as saying. "It's the kind of political mentality that Romney doesn't have, but admires. He wanted someone who could play the Chicago game [like Obama headquarters] on its own terms."
Those involved in selecting Ryan said the campaign believed he would be more adept and persuasive at delivering Romney's message.
Christie was told about the switch only shortly before the official announcement, which irritated some supporters of the New Jersey governor.
Campaign advisers felt Christie would be most useful at retail campaigning among working-class voters. "He'd be great anywhere there are ordinary white men," the official said. "They would have loved him because here's this straight-talking, hard-charging, in-your-face guy, and he's a man's man. Ohio is the only battleground state where Mitt has a net negative gender gap – where his approval among men doesn't outweigh the president's approval among women. Chris Christie changes that."
The account of how Romney changed his decision to pick Christie as his running mate comes days after speculations that the governor had an ill will toward the GOP candidate.
Last week, while Christie was to host President Barack Obama in his state to survey damage from Hurricane Sandy, he said he had no intention of bringing Romney to New Jersey to survey storm damage. Christie also praised Obama for handling the storm response.
"I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested," Christie told Fox News when asked whether Romney would visit. "I've got a job to do here in New Jersey that's much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff."
Asked by Politico whether he was unhappy with Romney, Christie again said, "Folks don't know the situation here following the storm."