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President Obama Should Have Placed A Call To Governor Christie On Election Night

November 7, 2013

Yesterday I came down hard on New York City Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota for not sounding more like a gracious loser when making his concession speech.

This morning I read where President Obama failed to make a phone call to a victorious gubernatorial candidate on Election Night.  That is just bad form.  Finding common ground among the political parties is not easy, and so even the simple act of a congratulatory call should not be missed, even if it only produces good feelings for one day.  It is often the little things that people remember when the times are tough, and the way forward is rough.  In politics the niceties do matter far more than many realize.

First President Obama chose not to place a congratulatory phone call to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday night – calling only the three Democrats who won big races this Election Day. Then the White House spent much of the next day not saying why, and not saying if the president would try to reach the governor Wednesday instead. (Four years ago, the president called Christie the day after he knocked off the incumbent Democratic governor.) That made a mini-story out of not very much. It even gave Christie a chance to take a shot: “Maybe he was being the head of his party last night,” he said. By the time the call was made yesterday, what was accomplished exactly? Let’s assume that there’s an important and longstanding precedent in presidents calling only those of his party to congratulate them on Election Night. Why? And why wouldn’t a president who says he wants to reach across the aisle start by doing that with a blue-state moderate who famously embraced his leadership on the eve of last year’s election? You could even argue (easily) it would have been in the president’s interest to place the call Tuesday; the post-election Christie won’t be as interested in a bromance.

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