2016: Will Jeb Bush Benefit from Chris Christie’s Troubles?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is embroiled in the controversy over what appears to be political payback from his last gubernatorial campaign. Christie hasn't been tied to the scandal, but aides and appointees have been accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, who didn't endorse Christie.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is embroiled in the controversy over what appears to be political payback from his last gubernatorial campaign. Christie hasn’t been tied to the scandal, but aides and appointees have been accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, who didn’t endorse Christie.

In the early 2016 Republican presidential sweepstakes, could former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush be the beneficiary of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent stumbles?

That’s the question a number of analysts are starting to ask as Christie, formerly a clear favorite of the GOP establishment, starts to lose his luster, tarnished by months of critical headlines about the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal in New Jersey.

“I sense a boomlet about Jeb Bush is all about Chris Christie,” said Harvard University’s David Gergen Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “People thought they were going to ride the Chris Christie horse and…they now think that horse may be lame and they’re looking for somebody else.”

Both Christie and Bush are cut from the same mainstream Republican cloth: well liked by the donor class and viewed suspiciously by conservative activists. If they both compete in 2016 — and to be clear, neither has decided on a bid — they’ll be fighting for the roughly same slice of the Republican pie, and perhaps more importantly, many of the same donors.

Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas this weekend provided a vivid demonstration of their diverging fortunes. The event could have been Christie’s opportunity to reclaim the mantle of the establishment. Instead, Christie’s appearance was marred by the governor’s description of the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied territories” — a term shunned by the pro-Israel donors and activists in the audience.

The governor reportedly apologized for using the term during a private meeting with RJC board member and billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and his speech was otherwise well-received.

But as Christie stumbled, Bush soared. The former governor was feted at a private dinner on Thursday to kick off the weekend. The dinner was held at Adelson’s private airplane hangar.

Bush delivered brief remarks at the dinner, and after one attendee urged him to run for president, the crowd of donors burst into applause, according to a report in the Washington Post.

That report described how many of the GOP’s top money men are giving Jeb Bush a fresh look in light of Christie’s recent struggles.

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SOURCE: JAKE MILLER
CBS NEWS

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