Expect it to be rocky in Aspen.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign’s viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
On Monday while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.”
“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”
Astorino, as well as the New York GOP, were livid. Both Christie and Astorino are now in Aspen, Colorado, for Republican Governors’ Association events and Astorino said he expected to talk to Christie–the RGA chairman–about his comments. Astorino said he planned already to travel to Aspen, but an aide said he expected the meeting to be a “frank chat.”
In a conference call, Astorino told reporters he had not seen Christie yet, but he plans on seeing him this evening at a group dinner, saying it’s “the first time we will all be together.”
At a press conference Tuesday, Astorino said, “If Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News.
He said today he stood by those comments and he does not believe he has burned any bridges with Christie and instead the Westchester County Executive thinks “once he and I have a chance to talk about the campaign and I can fill him in on things he may not know and how we are going to win this race then he may change his mind.”
The purpose of today’s call was to respond to a story on the cover of Wednesday’s New York Times showing Cuomo had interfered with a commission that attempted to root out corruption in state politics.
Astorino said this development will also make the RGA more interested in supporting his candidacy, noting it could “change perceptions on this race.” Astorino wouldn’t name names, but said other governors already have plans to campaign with him in New York.
“His job as the chairman of the RGA is to help get Republican governors re-elected and Republican candidates for governor elected and it would obviously be very convenient for him to come across the river into New York where he is frequently fundraising and to do things for me in New York and I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen,” he said Wednesday.
In the same press conference, Astorino even speculated Cuomo and Christie were scheming over the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration in New Jersey. He said he doesn’t “know if there’s a connection between him and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate, or if Cuomo has something that he’s holding back, information that could be damaging to the governor.”
“My take is maybe it’s inconvenient to come over the bridge to New York to help a Republican candidate for governor here,” he said. “That’s his call, whether he wants to or not, but as RGA chair he has governors and candidates who have a chance to win … and it’s incumbent upon him to help all of us.”
When asked about that today he didn’t go as far, saying, “There’s no secret the Port Authority is represented by the governor of both states and their respective appointees and staff.”
Astorino said he doesn’t feel betrayed and instead he and Christie are “friends” and he has “admired” his work as RGA chairman and as governor of the Garden State.
New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox will also be in Aspen and he too chose not to hold his fire saying in a statement this week he was “disappointed” to hear Christie’s comments and he “seems to have forgotten from whence he came,” noting Christie’s “underdog challenge” against Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.
ABC’s Josh Margolin contributed to this report.