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Christie’s billionaire backers

By Laurie Bennett

September 28, 2011 at 9:58am

It’s a sign of the times that public support from someone like Ken Langone doesn’t kill a presidential campaign before it begins.

On the other hand, the presidential campaign hasn’t begun.

Langone, billionaire founder of Home Depot, is backing Chris Christie, whose denials of interest have lost some of their fervor in recent days.

You’ll recall that Langone was a buddy of Richard Grasso when Grasso was head of the New York Stock Exchange and Langone headed the exchange’s compensation committee.

Eliot Spitzer, then New York state attorney general, sued the exchange and both men, saying Grasso’s $200 million pay package was way out of bounds.

Fast-forward seven years.

The lawsuit has gone away.

So has Spitzer, who has been deposed not once but twice, having lost the governor’s seat because of entanglements with a prostitute and his cable TV show because of dismal ratings.

The country is in the third year of a recession, with unemployment rates above 11 percent in some states.

And yet the love-hate relationship between the electorate and the ultra-rich persists. Voters resent Wall Street shenanigans, but admire those who amass 10-figure assets while collecting nine-figure salaries.

So the man who paid his pal too much, along with fellow billionaires David and Charles Koch, Charles Schwab, Stanley Drunkenmiller and David Tepper, is now urging Christie to seek the presidency.

And, incredibly, it’s a plus for Christie.

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