Images of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Obama side-by-side. A newspaper headline that reads, “Obama praises Christie.” And the kicker: “One high tax, Common Core, liberal-energy-loving, Obamacare-Medicaid-expanding President is enough.”

Is tying the Republican governor to the unpopular incumbent Democratic president enough to take him out in a Republican presidential primary? Conservative Solutions PAC, a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio, certainly hopes so.

With Christie’s support building in New Hampshire – and the New Jersey governor closest to Rubio among the establishment candidates – Rubio’s super PAC is targeting Christie with what they’re calling “a major part of an ongoing multi-million dollar buy in New Hampshire over the next couple of weeks.”

“The Hug”

The images of Christie and Obama appear to be straight out of a Republican admaker’s dream – no Photoshop necessary. Here’s one of the men walking together with their arms around each other. There’s another with the president resting his hand on the shoulder of the governor’s fleece.

So how could a savvy Republican politician with presidential ambitions let such a thing happen?

Just days before the 2012 election, New Jersey was among the states devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Christie, who had been a prominent surrogate for Mitt Romney and on the short-list of potential vice presidents, set aside his political differences to work with President Obama to help his state recover.

Many in the Republican Party have never forgiven him for it. According to Mark Halperin and John Heilmann’ s Double Down, Romney’s aides resented Christie for appearing with Obama so close to Election Day. Such feelings likely contributed to the dumping of the Romney campaign’s oppo file on “Pufferfish” – which along with "Bridgegate" were obstacles to Christie’s presidential campaign from which he is still trying to recover.

More Hugs

Last summer, Rand Paul attempted to attack Christie for “the hug” during one of the more memorable exchanges of the first Republican primary debate. As the two argued back and forth over warrantless wiretapping and the Bill of Rights, Paul went for the punch line; “I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.”

But Christie had a comeback: “Senator Paul, you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11. Those are the hugs I remember. And those had nothing to do with politics …”

Both lines earned applause from the Cleveland audience, suggesting that there is division in the Republican Party regarding how much they still hold “the hug” against Christie.

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