Druckenmiller Still Admires Scandal-Tarred Christie

Jan 13 2014 | 10:59am ET

Retired hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller is sticking up for embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie, widely seen as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, was forced to admit last week that members of his staff and other close advisers were behind a politically-motivated decision to close lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which connects his state with New York City. Christie had initially ridiculed the suggestion that the closings were designed to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, the city on the New Jersey side of the bridge, for refusing to endorse Christie's reelection last year.

On Thursday, Christie held a two-hour-long press conference to apologize for the incident, firing his deputy chief of staff but denying that he had any knowledge of the scheme. The governor's response didn't impress everybody, but it definitely impressed Druckenmiller.

"The country thirsts for a great leader," the Duquesne Capital Management founder told Bloomberg News. "A leader's actions in crisis are revealing."

"Governor Christie's actions yesterday reinforces my admiration for him. I believe Chris Christie is a once-in-a-generation leader. He has long demonstrated that leadership on policy. And he is showing essential executive skills as a manager: ensuring accountability and taking responsibility."

The bridge incident has thrown into question Christie's viability as a national candidate, with some saying it reinforces a perception that the governor is a bully. It has also served as an opening to criticize a wildly popular politician who last year cruised to reelection in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, with investigations both of the bridge matter and of Christie's use of Hurricane Sandy relief funds to air television commercials that feature him prominently. Christie's handling of that 2012 disaster was widely praised.


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