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The political question of the hour

As Jeffrey Goldberg puts it:

Why Exactly Is Chris Christie Subverting Mitt Romney?

Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor, delivered the keynote speech at the GOP convention which nominated Mitt Romney. It was only last week, at a campaign event for Romney in Richmond, Virginia, that Christie said Obama is “like a man wandering around a dark room, hands up against the wall, clutching for the light switch of leadership, and he just can’t find it.”

Since Hurricane Sandy devastated large parts of his state, and Christie has had a chance to deal with Obama first-hand, his praise of the president has been effusive.

Asked by Fox News about reports that Mitt Romney might visit New Jersey, Christie replied:

“I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. 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. I have a job to do.”

He could have put off a visit by Obama, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did, but Christie welcomed a visit by the president on Wednesday.

That sound you hear is the grinding of teeth at Romney campaign headquarters.

Goldberg, who has spent time with Christie at a Bruce Springsteen concert and elsewhere, offers some possible explanations for what the governor is doing, and I agree with him that the most benign is also the most likely:

Christie, in my experience, is a deeply emotional and highly sentimental man, and he is torn-up about the devastation along the Jersey Shore. The support he’s received from President Obama — the support he receives from anyone — at such a wrenching moment, makes him inordinately grateful. And President Obama has been extremely attentive.

I’m reminded of Christie’s similarly emotional refusal to kowtow to the political right when he received flack for appointing a Muslim lawyer as a state judge.