Some might call it a back-stabbing. But to Gov. Chris Christie, it’s “just politics.”
Speaking for the first time publicly about the news during his monthly appearance on NJ101.5’s “Ask the Governor” radio show tonight, Christie shrugged off the defection of longtime friend and political ally state Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) from his own burgeoning presidential bid to that of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, chalking the decision up to “business” and calling it politically-driven.
“Listen, Joe and Susan and I have been friends for over 20 years, and we’ll always continue to be friends,” Christie said, referring to Kyrillos’ wife, Susan Kyrillos. “This is politics. And people make political decisions based on politics.”
“I hold no grudge,” he added.
Bush’s campaign confirmed Kyrillos’ support last week to The Washington Post, as well as a $10,000 donation the Republican made in March to Bush’s political-action committee. The move is considered a symbolic blow to Christie’s own potential White House bid because of the pair’s history — Kyrillos chaired Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign, and Christie introduced the Monmouth County Republican to his future wife back in 1992.
While he said Kyrillos did not warn him he would be backing Bush, it “doesn’t change my view of him,” Christie said.
“I love him,” he said of Kyrillos. “This is politics. It’s not personal. It’s not personal. If Joe had called me and told me something that he was really angry with me or disappointed with me– we had lunch a month and a half ago or two months ago, we had a really good conversation. He’s a really good guy.”
Many insiders and observers speculate that Kyrillos’ decision could be fall-out from 2012’s U.S. Senate race, when some sources say Kyrillos felt the Republican governor didn’t do enough to help him unseat U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
“I have nothing but respect and admiration for him, and nothing but respect and admiration and love for his wife,” Christie said. “This is politics. It’s business. And he made a business decision. That’s all. I don’t see it as a personal shot at me.”
Christie maintained that the two are still friends, citing his celebrating of Kyrillos’ 50th birthday several years ago as well as the 50th birthday of Bill Palatucci, another close Christie confidante.