Chris Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign started exactly one minute after the polls closed on Election Night. That’s when it was obvious that Christie was romping to victory and could portray himself as the great savior of the Republican party. Here’s a conservative elected by a landslide in the Northeast! Here’s a guy who isn’t afraid of saying nice things about the President!
Here’s a guy who will never live in the White House.
Despite all the buzz, there are plenty of reasons why Christie. Here are seven of the most obvious.
The GOP primaries look like Alabama, not New Jersey. Yes, maybe Christie could appeal to voters in a nationwide election (a big maybe). But to do so, he has to get through the Republican primary system, and as the last go-round proved, that system appeals to the most extreme fringes of the party base. Mitt Romney was able to secure the presidential nomination by repudiating anything remotely moderate in his past and positioning himself to the right of Rick Perry. There’s no reason to think that the primary voters are going to look any different in just over two years.
Christie isn’t ideologically pure. Being a conservative in New Jersey is not going to strike many true believers as being a real conservative. Christie didn’t fight marriage equality from becoming the law with every fiber of his being, as a good conservative would. He also signed a bill signing a ban on gay conversion therapy, which infuriated the likes of the National Organization for Marriage. His fellow Republicans will seize on these apostasies to portray Christie as another Romney.
About his weight…It may or may not be fair that the only person between Christie and the White House is Jenny Craig. But the reality of politics is that Christie’s weight will raise lots of health issues.
He has a lot of baggage in his past. Double Down, the new book about the 2012 election, is not kind to Christie. The governor was on the short list of Romney’s potential running mates, but the team vetting him found a lot of red flags. (Christie’s code name in the process: Pufferfish. See the item above.) The team found “garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record,” which the Romney team were happy to supply to the book’s authors, apparently out of disgust with their dealings with Christie and his staff.
He’s a bully. This is part of the reason why Tea Party types respond so favorably to Christie. He likes to verbally beat people who disagree with him into submission. (Here’s one recent example.) All it takes is one explosion in front of the national press and Christie will look like a jerk, not a president.
Rush Limbaugh hates him. Normally, this would be a badge of honor, but it’s a liability in today’s GOP. The right-wing echo chamber, the source of news for many conservatives, will not serve Christie’s interests. “I’m telling you, such is the animus toward the tea party in the Republican party establishment that they are perfectly comfortable with a Christie win and a Cuccinelli loss [for Virginia governor] because to them that’s a tea party loss,” Limbaugh fumes. In the past, Limbaugh has said that Christie and Obama have a “master-servant relationship.”
He’s the Establishment’s Candidate of Choice. There’s an intraparty war being waged for control of the Republican party, and the candidates will be the proxies on the battlefield. Under those circumstances, being the beloved of the Establishment is not a virtue. It means taking sides in a bitterly fought war. Republicans are not likely to win a national election they sort themselves out and come to terms with what the party has to be to win. The odds that they can win with Christie and then sort that out are low. The party Establishment might like to think so, but they will spill so much blood before they ever get to the convention that they will be reeling.
Now, things could change for Christie. The Democrats could nominate a complete nimrod, which would not be the word to describe Hillary. The Tea Party could have a sudden conversion to pragmatism. Or perhaps Christie himself could, through a combination of charm (which he does have) and discipline (MIA so far), convince the warring sides that he’s the man for them. None of these are out of the realm of possibility.But they are out of the realm of probability.