I asked readers how they would draft the opening of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential announcement speech. I’ll share an outstanding submission (via e-mail). Valerie writes:
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. Two years and 10 months ago, we elected as president a man whose prodigious oratorical gifts inspired millions of voters, particularly those who had reason to believe that they had little influence in the election of an American president. It was a proud night for America.
Unfortunately, the President’s oratory skills did not translate into good public policy. More Americans are unemployed today than they were three years ago. Our debt, which was high when he took office, is even higher – so much that it threatens not just our financial security, but also our national security. Our foreign policy is incoherent, and our energy policy is designed to enrich governments who do not – to say the least – have our interests at heart. It is true that the President inherited a mess. Unfortunately, he made it worse. And while I admire and respect the men and women who are running for the Republican nomination, I am concerned that they are not addressing the full range of issues that we confront.
I have watched the impact of the President’s political and governing philosophy in my own state with dismay, but as a first-term governor, I have felt that it was too soon to offer myself as a solution. I even threatened to commit suicide! But as Edward de Bono said, “if you can’t change your mind, why have one?” So I want you fine folks to be the first to know: I now offer myself as a candidate for President of the United States. And I’m in it to win it.
Well, he might want to borrow that. The central premise behind a Christie campaign would be that we have enormous challenges that are not being addressed by the current crop of candidates. And as for the promise not to run, Valerie is right, that humor is a fine way to defuse that one. The simple truth is a lot of good candidates didn’t run, the ones who are have been disappointing, and looking at the records and vision of the potential candidates Christie stacks up as well as any other.
Frankly, the speech is the easy part. Should Christie get into the race there will be high hurdles to overcome. Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleisher, who is a self-described Christie “fan,”writes that it’s too late for a Christie run. He argues: “The fact his boosters seem to miss is that the difficulties of running nationally are exponentially greater than running in one state. And that’s why it’s too late for him to run -- at least to run and win.” That may be so.
It’s almost as nutty as a first-term senator running against the best known and best financed Democratic woman ever. In other words, stuff happens. There are those moments when a person and the times converge. We won’t find out if Christie is a winning candidate, capable of outshining the field, unless he runs. And what is the downside? That he makes the other candidates better? Or he snags a VP slot?
Fleischer concludes, “The New Jersey governor is 49 years old. He’s young and he has a great future in front of him.” Very true, but sometimes history calls.