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RNC Chair says Christie should stay at RGA

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on State of the Union

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should remain in his job as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, pushing back on a call from Virginia’s losing GOP gubernatorial candidate for Christie to step down.

“No, not at all,” Preibus told CNN in response to whether he agrees with Ken Cuccinelli’s demand that Christie quit the RGA.

“I don’t know of a better governor right now to lead that effort that is just a powerhouse across the country. I have seen him in rooms and I have seen him turn crowds on and his job is to raise a lot of money for the RGA and he can do that and I am sure the RGA is proud to have him,” said Preibus, during a CNN interview at the site of the RNC winter meeting in Washington, DC.

Appearing on CNN’s Crossfire Tuesday night, Cuccinelli said it “makes sense” for Christie to “step aside in that role” of RGA chairman because of the scandal surrounding Christie’s administration in allegedly causing traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge last fall for political payback.

“He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman. And that doesn’t mean any of the charges, political or otherwise, are substantive or not. It doesn’t matter. Perception is reality,” said Cuccinelli.

That was about the most critical any conservative has been of Christie.

But Cuccinelli also had a beef with the RGA for cutting back on TV ads in the state in the closing weeks of the campaign, while pumping big bucks into Christie’s cakewalk of a governor’s race in New Jersey — money that could have boosted Cuccinelli down the stretch. In the end, the Virginia race tightened, with Cuccinelli narrowly losing to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in November, while Christie won a landslide re-election. Some think help from the RGA for the underfunded Cuccinelli could have helped him pull off a win.

Still, since the RGA’s main function is to raise money to help GOP candidates for governor, there have been questions about whether Christie’s woes in New Jersey may hurt.

But so far, based on the turnout Christie had among GOP donors in a series of fundraisers and meetings in Florida last weekend, scandal doesn’t seem to be blocking his ability to rake in the cash.

“It might be hurting his popularity on MSNBC, but I don’t know about the other stuff,” Preibus quipped to CNN.