SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour have grown close in recent years, and while Barbour says he hasn't decided who to back in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016, he does like Christie's style.

Christie was one of at least five Republican governors gathered at the recent Republican Governors Association fall conference who are being talked about as possible presidential contenders the next time around. But having in his corner a battle-tested party sage like Barbour could prove invaluable to Christie in such a crowded field.

“Haley and Christie are close friends,” one knowledgeable Republican operative told the Washington Examiner. “Haley likes the way [Christie] governs, and they bonded over disaster management. I think there is a high level of trust and friendship there for both.”

Barbour was an early believer in Christie. When the governors association decided not to invest heavily in Christie's first run for governor in 2009, Barbour took over the organization and put money behind the New Jersey Republican, and Christie prevailed in the Democrat-leaning state.

Barbour and Christie's families have grown close over the years. While Christie has come to rely on Barbour for advice and counsel, Barbour has found in Christie a kindred spirit who shares his direct, aggressive leadership “Christie's got a good story for [other Republicans] to recognize, and determine that they can do that, too, in their state. That would be so good for us,” Barbour told the Examiner. “Christie is a good leader for this particular time, because of how he was re-elected, because of his record, because he's got a lot of media attention.

“People feel like they know Chris Christie,” Barbour added. “And they like him.”



The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is trying to raise cash for Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes by attacking Republicans who Democrats say posted an “offensive, sexist photo” of Grimes online.

The Photoshopped Image, posted on Twitter by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, depicts Grimes, who is challenging Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in next year's election, as "Obama Girl," the woman whose racy video and song in praise of President Obama went viral during the 2008 presidential race.

The photo superimposed Grimes' face over Obama Girl's body so that the Kentucky secretary of state is made to look as if she were wearing a snug-fitting, midriff-baring Obama T-shirt.

Republicans apologized for the “extremely offensive” photo and blamed it on a junior staffer. But Democrats were already using the photo to portray McConnell and Republicans as anti-woman and urging Democratic donors to help Grimes beat McConnell.

"This is right out of the McConnell playbook,” Democrats said in the fundraising email, “and we can't let these misogynistic attacks stand."



New York's outgoing mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, said he intends to spend a chunk of his personal fortune in 2014 to help elect candidates committed to addressing climate change.

The mayor did not commit to backing specific candidates, but said he would be “putting a lot of money into environmental causes.”

Climate change is the second major advocacy campaign Bloomberg has helped launch and supported with his personal fortune. The mayor helped organize and pumped millions into the gun-control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has been contributing to congressional campaigns to defeat pro-gun lawmakers.

Bloomberg has long had an interest in environmental issues, including a $50 million contribution to the Sierra Club. He said extreme storms, like Hurricane Sandy in neighboring New Jersey, are being exacerbated by climate change and the issue has to be addressed by Congress.

"I think across America there's a much greater understanding that something is going on,” Bloomberg said. “And what we have to do is make sure that the political leaders here have the courage to" address climate change.