Bill Kristol has the timetable. I offer some additional details on how a Chris Christie presidential campaign could start.
He announces at an event featuring former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The GOP all-stars explain that they’ve gone on bended knee to the one person they think can unite the party, win in the general election and make the hard calls to return us to fiscal sanity and revive American prosperity. They all pledge to raise money and provide policy advice to Christie. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announces he will lead the Christie super-PAC and can raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of the year.
Christie explains in his announcement that as time has passed, he’s come to recognize that what he has done in New Jersey and what he is able to articulate to the country make him more than qualified for the presidency. In watching the GOP debates he and his wife became convinced that no one in the field was showing the required courage needed to attend to our pressing needs. He jokes that while he suggested he’d have to commit suicide to convince the press he wasn’t running, he now sees that President Obama is strangling America, and it’s time for an intervention. He tells the crowd that he’s worked successfully with Democrats, adhered to conservative principles, taken on the unions and attacked runaway entitlement programs.
The next day he announces the basics of his proposed Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid reforms. A working group composed of the former head of the Office of Management and Budget and now Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ryan, Democrat Alice Rivlin and former assistant OMB director James Capretta will help him formulate specific proposals.
A few days later, he gives a foreign policy address citing his role as U.S. attorney and in overseeing homeland security for New Jersey as evidence of his determination to protect Americans and his ability to discern the good guys from the bad guys. He declares that the battle against jihadist terror, the re-establishment of warm relations with Israel and European allies, funding of defense commensurate with our national security needs and leadership on human rights will be the cornerstones of his national security policy. He announces a team of advisers including retired Gen. Jack Keane, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), and John Bolton to assist in developing a series of initiatives including: restoring the military option for Iran; resetting “reset” with Russia and limiting China’s domestic oppression and foreign aggression. His watchwords, he promises, will be: “Don’t mess with the U.S. Don’t even think about it.”
In the next week or so he gives a speech, introduced by Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer and social conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), on “building a just society based on American values.” He talks from the heart about why the GOP must be the pro-life, pro-school choice, pro-charity and pro-family party. He calls for communities to start grassroots efforts to reduce the high school dropout rate and encourage responsible fatherhood. (He credits former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum for pioneering work on the latter.)
On the strategic side, he tells the good people of Iowa it would be a disservice to them to enter the caucuses so late in the process. He commits to win in New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona and Florida (and figures that with Haley’s help he can win South Carolina).
In a five-talk show Sunday he tells Republicans that the only thing on which he agrees with Jon Huntsman is the idiocy of special-interest-group pledges. His only pledges are to the Constitution and to the voters. He also explains that while Rick Perry’s been a fine governor, the GOP really needs someone who won’t frighten voters, doesn’t personify crony capitalism and doesn’t run a race on one-line rhetorical grenades. As for Mitt Romney, he says he’d be delighted to have him as Treasury secretary.
Really, how hard would all that be? ( Hard, but hardly impossible.) And more important, what’s Christie’s excuse for not giving it a try?