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May 29th, 2017

Insight

Christie Almighty?

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published July 1, 2015

Now that he’s formally a candidate for president, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters the race to a decidedly mixed reception.

Some called in an ego run.

Others would have you believe he’s the king of the GOP long shots (talk about a backhand compliment.

Still others said Dr. Jekyll showed up to announce; how long before Mr. Hyde makes an appearance? Not a compliment whatsoever.

Here’s my take on Christie’s entry. Longer post short:

1) It’s a test of what I like to call the “George Costanza” theory of recent presidential elections — George deciding, in a Seinfeld episode, that doing the instinctual opposite was the only way to get women, get a job and get respect. Translated to elections: Bill Clinton was the opposite of George H.W. Bush (distinguished WW2 veteran versus Vietnam draft evader). George W. Bush offered a moral fiber that Clinton lacked. And Barack Obama’s rhetorical skills are a far cry from the younger Bush’s interpretation of the English language. The far opposite of Obama in this Republican field? Try a guy who’s abrasive, blunt, confrontational, probably can’t sing, and hasn’t fit in a 42-long suit in years.

2) Christie’s timing couldn’t be any worse. He peaked in November 2013, following his landslide reelection. But the past year’s been troublesome for New Jersey’s governor — most notably, that pesky bridge scandal. At present, Christie’s approval rating is at a record low. If I were starting a presidential run, I’m not sure I’d so on a day after the market tanked, a week after the Supreme Court broke conservatives’ heart, in a state where less than one in three voters like what I’m doing. I checked the web: United offers direct flights from Newark to Manchester, N.H., where Christie’s presidential run either finds life or dies in the winter snow.

3) However, Christie does have one card to play: plenty of governors who owe him large for his successful turn as head of the Republican Governors Association in last year’s election. Christie was dealt a bad hand — nine Republican guvs running for reelection in states Obama twice carried. Christie lost only one of those races: Pennsylvania. In theory, Christie should be calling in chits (not to mention hitting up all those donors he met along the trail last year). The problem is: if you’re a sitting Republican governor, this particular field offers a lot of sound choices. That includes governors present (Christie, Kasich, Jindal and Walker) and past (Bush). So why endorse now — especially, a guy not in the front tier.

Next up for Christie: trying to make the a-list at that Aug. 6 candidate debate in Cleveland.

Previously:
06/15/15: Did Hillary Flunk A History Lesson?
06/11/15: Thursday Candidates Quiz
06/10/15: First Best Second Choice
06/08/15: Game of Inches
06/03/15: The Power Of Narrative Politics
06/01/15: Sorting The Republicans' 2016 Kingdom
05/28/15: To Command Without Having Served
05/21/15: 2016: Do Looks Matter?
05/15/15: John Bolton's Swan Song

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: “The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain.” During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

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