Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, joined the Cameo app to raise money for charity. Instead, he accidentally helped a Montana Democrat campaign for governor.
For $200, anyone could ask Christie to send a personalized message on Cameo, used by various celebrities to send videos to fans. Campaign staff for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney took advantage of the opportunity, getting Christie to record a lighthearted video telling “Greg” that “Mike” wants him to “get back to New Jersey,” while extolling state virtues including the Jersey Shore and Bruce Springsteen.
Little did Christie know, he was actually trolling the Republican candidate for Montana governor he has endorsed, Greg Gianforte, who had previously lived in New Jersey for a number of years.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can come back voluntarily, or maybe they’ll send me out to get you,” Christie joked in the 51-second video. “I don’t think that’s what you want, Greg, so get yourself back to Jersey quick, and let’s have some Jersey fun and be Jersey strong.”
Cooney then posted the video to Twitter Thursday night, calling it “a special message" for his opponent. His campaign also put out a news release that stated, “Even former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agrees — Greg Gianforte should go back to New Jersey," stressing the campaign’s narrative that Gianforte is an outsider who should not be in Montana’s gubernatorial race.
Christie said he was unaware the video had been commissioned by Cooney’s campaign and told NJ Advance Media the video was “dirty" and “underhanded.” He also tweeted about the incident, criticizing Cooney’s campaign for its misleading Cameo request.
“Shame on @CooneyforMT,” the tweet read. “I SUPPORT Greg Gianforte for Governor-absolutely!”
Christie said the proceeds from his videos would go toward the Center for Great Expectations, a New Jersey nonprofit for mental health and substance abuse. Currently, the former governor’s Cameo page is not taking any new video requests.
It is common for Cameo creators to receive little information about who their videos are for or who commissioned them, often receiving just a short blurb about the request. Cameo features both minor and major celebrities, ranging from rapper Snoop Dogg, who sells messages for $900 a pop, to Bravo reality star Lisa Vanderpump, whose videos go for $275 each.
Cooney campaign spokesperson Matt Fidel told The Inquirer that one of the candidate’s goals on the campaign trail is not only to win, but to have fun.
“A lot of folks in the state got a kick out of it," Fidel said of the prank. “It was just a fun day for our staff.”
But Christie is not the only Republican politician to join the app — or get duped by Democrats while using it. Other Trump associates, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, were tricked into supporting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Cameo in recent weeks.
Biden’s campaign digital director Rob Flaherty said he paid Lewandowski and Gorka to release videos intended to hype up recipient “Joey." How much each was paid was not available.
Currently, Lewandowski and Gorka offer Cameo videos for $70 and $90, respectively.
“You can never give into the haters,” Lewandowski said in the video. “Don’t let 'em get to you, take the fight right to them.” Gorka also unknowingly encouraged Biden to keep going and “Nil carborundum illegitimi, don’t let the bastards grind you down.”