A more-than-seven-minute video released earlier this week by Chris Christie is a testament to the remarkable awareness the New Jersey governor has of his brand and his continued willingness to bolster it by openly acknowledging it.

The video, which features guest appearances by everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (and even Christie flack Maria Comella!), is ostensibly a sort of madcap search for Christie's now-iconic fleece, which he wore relentlessly -- and, yes, that is the right word -- during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath last fall.

But, there's a whole lot more going on here too. An aide tells Christie dryly "I know how much you hate getting press coverage in DC."  Christie ponders how buying an injured giraffe -- yes, you read that right -- might "annoy the base."  He references how he is among Time's 100 most influential people in the world.

The entire video is Chris Christie poking fun at "Chris Christie." It shows a politician uniquely aware of how he is perceived on the national stage among party strategists and the media, and willing to play with that perception in hopes of, in an odd sort of way, positively re-enforcing it.

(Sidenote: If you think this video is aimed at any actual New Jersey voters, you are wrong. In that regard, it's a testament to how unworried Christie is about winning a second term this fall.)

Make no mistake: All politicians -- all -- are not only aware of their public image/brand but also constantly working to tweak it without making it look like that's what they are doing.

What Christie is up to here is forward-facing that sort of image-obsession and, by force of his personality, he is largely able to pull it off.

There is, of course, some danger here for Christie. There is such a thing as too cute by half and doing this sort of video walks the line between ironically appealing and overdone.  And, the timing is worth noting too since the video was released on the same day that reports surfaced that Christie had undergone secret lap-band surgery back in February.

The willingness to even make this video -- much less, generally, pull off the comedy in it -- represents both the possibility and peril present in a Christie presidential bid.  It's hard to see anyone else mentioned on the Republican side in 2016 even trying something like this. We're not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.

Democrat jumps in South Dakota Senate race as signs point against a Brendan Johnson run: Rick Weiland (D), a former aide to Tom Daschle, will run for the Senate in South Dakota. He told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader he is convinced U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson (D) will not run. A Johnson supporter also said he does not think the son of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D) will make a bid.

"I'm certain that Brendan will not enter the race for the U.S. Senate, and I hereby call on all those who have signed on to our open letter to give Rick Weiland our full support," said Lincoln County Democratic Chairman Ryan Casey in an email to reporters. Casey had been spearheading a movement to draft Johnson to run for his father's seat.

Johnson would only tell the Argus Leader he is focused on his job, even as signs point to him passing on the race. Daschle says he encouraged Weiland, his former aide, to run. The big question mark that remains is whether former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) make a bid.


Three State Department officials accused senior government officials of withholding facts about the Benghazi attack.

A Social Security Administration report says immigration reform will create millions of new jobs and boost GDP.

A new Suffolk poll shows Rep. Ed Markey (D) leading Republican Gabriel Gomez 52 percent to 35 percent in the Massachusetts Senate race.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) dined with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Michigan Board of Education Member John Austin (D) and former congressman Bart Stupak (D) say they would step aside if former congressman Mark Schauer (D) runs for governor.

Mark Sanford won't have to appear in court after all.

Get ready for a Dold-Schneider rematch in Illinois.

A former Mitt Romey campaign aide wrote a tell-all e-book about 2012 .

The House will again vote on repealing Obamacare next week.

The NRA is running a new TV ad with modest money behind it that defends Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).


"Census: Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in 2012" -- Dan Balz and Ted Mellnik, Washington Post

"10 Immigration Amendments to Watch" -- Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call