New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to all but the emphatically clueless, has made the case for his candidacy and let it be known that he’s rethinking a possible presidential run. His staff now swats down errant statements, suggesting a run definitely is not in the cards, be the statements from Christie’s brother or from Fox News.
Last night, in a speech more carefully crafted that one might initially have concluded, Christie made several key points. First, by taking on the teachers’ union, as Ronald Reagan took on the air traffic controllers, he has demonstrated toughness and shown leadership ability that will translate into face-offs with both domestic and international foes. Second, as bad as President Obama is, no one else is doing much better when it comes to laying out a substantive agenda for reform and rebuilding the U.S. economy. And third, he is doing this rethinking deliberately and at the urging (pleading?) of voters.
Reporters, demonstrating a certain lack of imagination, believe his prior statements expressing lack of confidence in his readiness for the presidency are a barrier to a run. Nonsense. He’s had political victories since initial expressions of self-doubt, and he now recognizes, or so he would tell us, that he has precisely what it takes to win and then govern. (He did more to lay out an agenda on entitlement reform in a 20-minute speech than all the GOP candidates have done in months of campaigning.)
But while he ponders (and his staff scrambles to figure out how a campaign could be mounted in a matter of weeks), Mitt Romney is out there plugging away. He put another million in campaign funds in his pocket at a New York event. At least one poll (albeit, perhaps an outlier) shows he’s improving his standing and now leads in Iowa. And his electability argument grows stronger.
As to the last, not only does Romney lead among GOP contenders in Ohio, but he also bests Obama in a general election match-up while Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not in the latest Quinnipiac poll.
In other words, if Christie doesn’t move quickly, Romney’s momentum from the last debate will continue and make him more formidable with each passing day.
Right Turn guest blogger Matt Continetti writes in the Weekly Standard newsletter: “I want a president smart enough to know he doesn’t have all the answers; a man of decent character who is able to distinguish between good and evil; a conservative who understands the limits of practical politics and whose instinct is not to meddle with the economy and society. And if such a candidate is not in the race, I will have to decide among the options at hand.”
That, in a nutshell, is the thought process Romney hopes is gaining traction in the GOP electorate. He’s the “good enough” Republican. And that may be the ultimate verdict of Republican voters. Christie is the last potential candidate to offer a “better than that” option. He offers, as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) put it, the prospect that Republicans wouldn’t have to “settle.” But if he doesn’t jump in, Republicans will do just that, and increasingly it seems that Romney would be the beneficiary.