New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is out with his first campaign reelection ad, a rather mushy tribute to bipartisanship.
More effective, however was this Web video put out previously:
Christie is well on his way to a smashing victory, no small achievement for a fiscally conservative, anti-teachers-union Republican in a deep blue state. Then the question becomes whether he will run for president in 2016. Advisers steadfastly refuse to discuss it, and, surprisingly, he’s not yet been grilled on whether he’d serve his entire term. (Maybe people already assume he’ll run for president and if he wins only serve 3 of his 4 years.)
Conservatives miffed at his handling of the Hurricane Sandy disaster underestimate what a formidable figure he will be. They are kidding themselves if they think patting the president on the back for giving his state assistance after the hurricane or hollering at Congress about an aid package is going to be problematic. In fact, he would likely turn it around, saying that’s evidence of how hard he’ll fight for the country at large and how he’ll defy partisanship to get things done.
More problematic for a run in the GOP presidential primary is his support for a multi-faceted gun bill:
Previously on the record as supporting some gun restrictions on the books in New Jersey — some of the toughest in the nation — the governor took an active turn on the gun issue. Christie proposed requiring mental-health adjudication records be added to background checks, banning the Barrett .50 caliber rifle, new and stiffer penalties for straw-purchasers and gun trafficking, parental consent for violent video game sales, and making it easier for doctors to mandate commitment or outpatient treatment for mental-health patients deemed dangerous. He added a mental-health working group to a state gun-violence task force, charged with making recommendations.
That’s precisely the holistic approach that a wide electorate would like (it’s wildly popular in New Jersey), but Second Amendment advocates in the GOP primary may have a field day with that. (Although his emphasis on mental health is precisely what many national Republicans wanted to focus on in the wake of Sandy Hook.)
It would be a mistake to discount Christie on any one issue, or even a few. Mitt Romney was supposedly disqualified as a nominee because of Romneycare, but he managed to get the nomination. And while Christie endorsed Romney (another strike for some voters), Christie is a more viscerally conservative candidate and an infinitely more skilled one.
Christie has a number of advantages should he decide to run:
1. He’s been in the New York-New Jersey media spotlight and is adept at dealing with old and new media. (Recall his YouTube videos made him a national polticall sensation.)
2. He’s an excellent antidote to the blame-shifting, poor executive who currently occupies the Oval Office.
3. He’s done what national Republicans have hoped to do — reform entitlements, take on teachers unions and resist tax increases.
4. He’s a commanding presence, more so than many of the other top tier candidates. There will be no question as to whether he will be tough enough to be president.
5. He has a network of big donors (who unsuccessfully urged him to run in 2012) and an attractive candidate for former Romney donors, with whom he’ll be rubbing elbows at an upcoming Romney-sponsored retreat.
6. He is socially conservative (pro-life, personally against gay marriage) but has wanted state voters’ to decide whether to legalize gay marriage. (In other words, he’s conservative enough on these issues, but not divisive.)
No candidate will have it “all” in 2016. Christie will need to show he’s well versed and tough on national security. (His tussle with New York law enforcement over surveillance of New Jersey Muslims raised a red flag with hawks and will be more problematic after the Boston bombings.) But in recent GOP presidential primaries the more moderate candidate (e.g. Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008, Romney in 2012) has managed to win the nomination while more conservative candidates divided up the rest of the field. Right now I see few if any Republicans who could occupy that ground in the GOP 2016 primary race.
Could Christie pull it off? Absolutely. Will he run? It’s hard to imagine (other than health concerns, which have to a degree been put to rest in his vigorous post-Sandy tenure) why he wouldn’t want to.