If you believe that the GOP will eventually come to its senses and find an electable standard-bearer in the mainstream of the party, then you are probably thinking the only candidates who can unite that segment of the GOP are Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). But there is another potential contender, one taken for politically dead, who compares favorably to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who went from front-runner to underdog to redemption in New Hampshire. We’re talking about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who seeks to do just the same.
He has moved up a bit in polls in New Hampshire, is consistently in the state and will have another chance to make an impression at the debate next week. His two previous debate performances were quite strong.
He has put the bridge flap behind him and now can boast that he put himself out to answer questions for 90 minutes when the story broke — in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s penchant for secrecy and prevarication.
Christie’s travels on Wednesday illustrate why he has the potential to pull off a huge upset. In Iowa, he showed how to take the fight to Clinton, telling the crowd:
Let me give you a perfect example of the fact that all she really cares about is getting elected. Here’s a woman for, who most of her time as secretary of state, was saying she’s in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. She called it one of the best things that the president would ever be able to do. And now all of a sudden she’s running for president she says, ‘I’m against it.’ Now, here’s the reason she’s against it, everybody. She’s against it because her masters in the union movement have told her she needs to be against it. And she’s not going to let anybody get to her left like Barack Obama did seven years ago. So, she’s saying to herself, ‘Okay, if the union guys says I have to do that, then that’s what I’m going to say and that’s what I’m going to do.’ You know, it seems like an epidemic with Obama’s secretaries of state. They’re for things before they’re against them.
More direct and succinct than Bush and more aggressive than Rubio, Christie knows how to make a point, how to tell a compelling story.
On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, he argued: “I absolutely believe in the end, though, that they’re going to pick the person that can fit two criteria. First and foremost, the person they pick can actually get something done as president of the United States, and secondly, the person who can best prosecute cases against Hillary Clinton to get the presidency.” That’s what he’s selling.
Surprising for a governor, he is most impressive when addressing national security. Asked about the F-35 planes, he explained: “You know, we have new threats emerging all the time across the world, as you know, Hugh. We’ve got to sustain our technological edge. And you know, I think that it makes sense for us to move forward. … I look at the way this administration has gone back in terms of our commitment to Defense and used sequester as he’s for it. The fact is this president doesn’t want a strong and robust military. He doesn’t believe America has to play a strong and robust role in the world. I differ. My opinion differs greatly. You’ve seen the very detailed plan that I’ve put out regarding not only military hardware, but military personnel. And I want to continue to be supportive of those efforts. And listen, we’re going to have a lot of debates about what hardware to move forward on. But at least at this point, based upon what I know, Hugh, I would move forward with the F-35.”
And what about the emerging Russia-Syria alliance and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Moscow? Unlike the White House and Donald Trump, Christie knows this is very bad news for the United States and our allies. “[Obama] doesn’t understand the impact of the words of the American president. Gosh, Ronald Reagan understood that so well, that the words of the American president are very important. And not only your actions, but your words are important, too,” he said. “This president fails both on actions and words. And I would be out there condemning him the same way I would already have set up a no-fly zone and made sure that President [Vladimir] Putin understood that this is a no-fly zone for him and his planes as well.”
Christie is not the favorite. He’s not close. That’s why he would be a dark horse. But he would be a logical one — able to stand up to Trump and then to Clinton, carrying an executive record from a blue state and showing prowess on foreign policy. He is amusing, and compared with Trump, seems mild-mannered. It is not likely that Christie will be the nominee. But nothing is likely in this race.