Christie and Springsteen: A Tale of Devotion, and a Very Public Snub

For years, it had been a love unrequited — the kind of one-way affection fueling rock songs from the days of poodle skirts and bobby socks.

Mr. Christie, a man of outsize emotions, has loved Bruce Springsteen, the boss and icon of New Jersey, since he was a boy.

But even after attending 129 concerts and attaining the highest political office in the state, Mr. Christie, a Republican, had met Mr. Springsteen only twice — once on an airplane in 1999, and again in 2010, when they exchanged pleasantries at a ceremony at the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

At venues large and small, the populist rocker seemed to go out of his way to snub the governor. Still, Mr. Christie never wavered in his devotion.

They shut down the tollbooths of glory

‘cause we didn’t endorse Christie.

As Jeffrey Goldberg chronicled in The Atlantic magazine after attending a 2012 Springsteen show with Mr. Christie, the governor accepted that he may never become an object of affection.

It would not break his spirit. Even when Mr. Springsteen wrote an editorial in The Asbury Park Press denouncing the governor’s budget as cruel to the poor, Mr. Christie said he was simply misguided.

“Just because we disagree doesn’t mean I don’t get him,” Mr. Christie said.

Love runs deeper than disagreements.

“No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!” he said.

It would take a hurricane to bring the two men together.

They embraced at a benefit for Hurricane Sandy victims at Radio City Music Hall. For Mr. Christie, it was more than just a hug. He later relayed the experience to President Obama, who had himself played matchmaker, arranging a call between the two men.

“I told the president today actually that the hug was great and that when we got home there was a lot of weeping because of the hug,” Mr. Christie recalled after the trip. “And the president said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Well, to be honest, I was the one weeping; everyone else was fine.' ”

At a town-hall-style meeting not long after the embrace, Mr. Christie told voters, “We hugged and he told me it’s official: We’re friends.”

But it would not last.

Lately, Mr. Christie — troubled by scandal, accused of being a bully, compelled to apologize for the behavior of aides who shut down traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish a political opponent — could really use another hug.

Yet it seems he may not find comfort in Mr. Springsteen’s arms.

Sprung from cages on Highway 9,

We got three lanes closed,

So Jersey get your ass in line.

The relationship’s rupture occurred this week in the most public way, on national television, with a potent weapon, one of Mr. Springsteen’s own songs, treasured by Mr. Christie since he was 13 years old.

Mr. Springsteen joined Jimmy Fallon on his late-night talk show on NBC to perform a revised version of “Born to Run.”

“Governor let me in,” Mr. Springsteen sang. “I want to be your friend. There’ll be no partisan divisions. Let me wrap my legs round your mighty rims, relieve your stressful condition.”

But it was not to be, as Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Fallon concluded in their lyrics:

Someday, Governor, I don’t know when, this will all end,

But till then you’re killing the working man

Who’s stuck in Gov. Chris Christie’s Fort Lee, New Jersey, traffic jam.

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