Whitman likes Huntsman, believes Christie made the right choice
She was the first governor from New Jersey named ‘Christie” and while Christie Todd Whitman many not carry the same swagger of the current Christie in office, she still has a great deal of respect in the national GOP establishment.
Whitman was in Richmond today for Governor Bob McDonnell‘s conference on energy issues. (Whitman now lobbies for the nuclear energy industry.) She is not ready to formally endorse anyone in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, but she made it clear that there is one candidate who has impressed her the most.
“Jon Huntsman is someone of whom I have a great deal of respect for,” said Whitman. “He has a wide breathed of experience in the public sector, the private sector and international.”
Whitman stopped short of announcing her outright support of Huntsman, but didn’t mention any of the other current candidates during our conversation.
She also had quite a bit to say about her fellow New Jersian, Chris Christie who passed on the opportunity to run for president, despite heavy pressure from republicans across the country. Whitman believes he made the right choice.
“He wants to run on a record of clear accomplishment,” said Whitman. “He hasn’t been in long enough for some of the really dramatic changes that he was able to get and agreements that he has been able to negotiate to really come fully into fruition and know their full impact. He is right to wait.”
Whitman, who left Trenton to run the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, knows better than anyone how difficult it is to stay political viable in the rough and tumble world of New Jersey politics. She is confident Christie can weather a difficult re-election bid and still be a viable candidate for president in 2016 and beyond.
“He is tough enough to survive any of that,” she said. ‘Especially then because he will have that record of accomplishment.”
Extended clips from my interview with Gov. Whitman can be seen below.