WASHINGTON - Has Barack Obama made a cuckold out of Mitt Romney with his new-found bromance with Chris Christie? And is Bruce Springsteen serving as the president's wingman?
The U.S. political world was abuzz on the eve of the U.S. election when news emerged of a bro-mantic gesture from the president to the Republican governor of New Jersey — and a pronounced chill between Christie and his party's presidential nominee.
Obama spoke on the phone to Christie on Monday to discuss the situation in New Jersey, a state devastated by mega-storm Sandy last week. After they chatted, the president put Springsteen on the line to say hello to Christie — an avid, lifelong fan of the iconic, blue-collar rock star.
Springsteen, a loyal Democrat, was travelling on Air Force One with Obama, warming up supporters before the president took to the stage at a slew of swing state rallies held just hours before voters headed to the polls.
Christie spoke of his awe on hearing Springsteen at the end of the line just a few days after the two first met at a benefit concert for the victims of Sandy on Friday. After that encounter, the star-struck governor added, he went home and wept.
"(Obama) told me in times of difficulty that the only thing better than one Jersey guy is two Jersey guys," Christie told reporters on Monday of his call from Air Force One.
"Bruce said to me how proud he was of his state and how proud he was of the people in his state and how tough they are and he will be back to Jersey Shore soon ... It was great to talk to the president and even better to talk to Bruce."
Prior to the storm, Springsteen had all but refused to acknowledge Christie's existence despite the governor's longtime and vocal adoration. Christie has estimated he's been to more than 100 Springsteen shows.
The Obama-orchestrated call from The Boss came a week after the governor heaped praise on the president's handling of the federal response to Sandy. He said Obama had been "outstanding," while tersely dismissing questions about when Romney might be welcome to come to New Jersey, as the president did, to survey the damage.
Christie's conduct has rankled the Romney campaign. The bitterness only intensified when the governor reportedly declined to make a 20-minute trip to a town on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border on Sunday night to appear at a rally with the Republican presidential hopeful.
The Huffington Post reported Monday that the close physical proximity of the event to New Jersey has only added to questions in the Romney campaign about Christie's loyalties.
"You can't tell me he couldn't have gone over there for a night rally," a Romney campaign source told the Huffington Post.
It's hardly the first time Romney has felt spurned by Christie, who was once on the short list to become his running mate.
At the Republican National Convention in August, it took Christie more than 15 minutes to mention Romney's name in his prime-time keynote address to delegates. The candidate looked visibly pained throughout the speech.
The governor is eyeing a run for president himself in 2016, prompting pundits to suggest a Romney win on Tuesday would dash those hopes for Christie, known to be impatient. Others have suggested he was miffed to be passed up for the No. 2 spot on the ticket for Paul Ryan.