The Chris Christie tease intensifies
Last night's Reagan Library address by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did nothing to indicate if he will throw his hat into the presidential race, and seemed to be designed as a tease. It sounded a lot like a campaign speech, and a damn good one at that. After watching George W. Bush get hammered by the media for 8 years, unwilling and perhaps unable to fire back and speak over the heads of the press, the GOP base is salivating for a candidate able to speak clearly, directly, and forcefully to the American people.
The high point of the evening came when a woman in the balcony begged Christie to run, and the crowd gave a rousing round of applause. Yet Christie responded in a noncommittal way worthy of Sally Rand's fan dance -- beguiling, yet revealing nothing critical.
So what is the governor up to? Is this a clever way to allow momentum to build, while avoiding the hazards of being a target for other candidates? He must know that some of his positions (global warming, jihad) will infuriate the GOP base, and that the same base is also desperate to defeat Obama. Perhaps he thinks that a wave of enthusiasm for his candidacy will help persuade the party's strongest conservatives to accept him as electable.
Or is he building momentum for his re-election bid as governor, in effect telling NJ voters they have a man so dedicated to them that he would pass on the opportunity for higher office?
I can think of a few other possibilities to explain his tease, and I am sure there could be others.
- 1. This could be aimed at his family, who may well be opposed to such a bid for the burden it would impose on them. Being the child of a president, or even a candidate is no picnic. Perhaps Mrs. Christie does not relish having her daily wardrobe choices the subject of intense scrutiny, nor her cooking, which doesn't seem to have helped her husband maintain a healthy weight. A strong public demand that he run might help him persuade his family to join him in reluctantly agreeing to save the nation.
- 2. Perhaps the governor has some undisclosed health problems, and feels he can only take the risk of the stress of office if it is a matter of urgent national demands.
- 3. It might be the case that the governor has made private commitments to certain parties in New Jersey to complete his reform program. After all, New Jersey desperately needs political reform, and Mr. Christie obviously cares deeply about his home state. We have no way of knowing what commitments he made to supporters, or to Democrats with whom he has worked. A strong national demand that he run mikght offer a graceful exit.
Because of registration deadlines, any serious candidate must make up his or her mind before the end of October. Governor Christie's fan dance will end soon.