The Christie campaign came out swinging at Jon Corzine today---and missed.
In an apparent attempt to move attention away from his loan to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Brown and his subsequent failure to report the loan on federal and state disclosure forms and his 2007 income taxes, Christie issued press releases, held a press teleconference call, and released the video that appears above, to make an issue of Jon Corzine's conduct in the 80's and 90's while a trader and executive at Goldman Sachs.
The Christie camp is trying to get the press and the voters to focus on Corzine's involvement with Enron and a security Goldman invented called Monthly Income Preferred Shares (MIPS) that allowed Enron and other companies to appear financially stronger than they actually were and to get favorable tax treatment for the costs of those securities.
During the press conference call, most reporters were more interested in talking about Christie's financial relationship with Brown and his ongoing relationship, if any, with the U.S. Attorney's office, than they were in dealing with Corzine, Enron and MIPS.
Despite the fact that Enron/MIPS is a valid issue---it demonstrates what an evil creature Corzine is---the Christie campaign can't land this punch in a meaningful way for three reasons:
1) It is old news. Bob Franks or Jim Florio might have been able to use it in the 2001 U.S. Senate race, but voters are more concerned about the pain they are feeling now than what Corzine did to inflict pain on them, investors and the general public 15 years ago.
2) Only those proficient in the jargon of corporate finance will understand what a blatant scam MIPS was. Most voters and reporters are not fluent in that language. I wrote about it in 2007 when fighting Corzine's 800% toll increase scheme. It went over with a resounding thud. Enlighten New Jersey wrote of Corzine's Atrocities in 2005. Lefty Arianna Huffington wrote of it in 2002. The New Republic, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal wrote about it in 2002. It did not stick then and it won't stick now because most people don't understand it and don't understand how it is impacting their lives.
Last, and most importantly, with approval numbers in the 30's, Corzine is not likely to get any less popular than he already is. The Christie campaign is wasting precious time and resources trying to make Corzine less popular than he already is over something he did 15 years ago that most people won't understand.
New Jersey's voters are ready to vote against Jon Corzine. As we head into September, the Christie needs to give New Jersey reasons to vote for him.
New Jersey needs to meet Chris Christie the leader. We need to meet Chris Christie the optimistic problem solver. We need to meet the Chris Christie who is proud of New Jersey, the Christie who can tap into that pride that is already there but below the surface for most of us.
We need to meet a Christie who mocks his detractors, like Obama did so well in 2008, and who inspires us and pulls us together like Reagan did in 1980 and 1984.
That is the Chris Christie that can withstand the mud Corzine will throw in the next 10 1/2 weeks and emerge victorious on November 3.
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