Chris Christie, the embattled governor of New Jersey whose hopes for presidential nomination have been hit by revelations of alleged politically-motivated lane closures and misspending of federal aid, was dealt a new blow last night after the former Olympic sprint and long jump champion Carl Lewis accused him of “intimidation”.
The nine-time Olympic gold medallist alleges that Mr Christie ditched a plan to appoint Mr Lewis as New Jersey’s first physical fitness ambassador after he launched a political campaign against Republican Senator Dawn Addiego – a friend of the governor’s. According to Mr Lewis, Mr Christie called him to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 – and that doing so meant the fitness programme the pair had been developing for nearly a year would not materialise if he continued. Mr Lewis says the governor felt the post “was a carrot he could pull away.”
“I felt like he was trying to intimidate me, absolutely. But I definitely didn’t feel intimidated,” Mr Lewis told New Jersey’s ‘Star Ledger’. He added: “It’s interesting, everyone calling him a bully. I don’t really see him as a bully. I see it more as someone who’s insecure, and he’s governor now and has got the power.”