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Chris Christie Reconsidering A Presidential Run?

Bloomberg reporter and MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter shared an eyebrow raising piece of news on Twitter this afternoon:

Assuming this is true, it could mean a few things. Christie could be testing the waters just to satisfy the continued calls he gets from various sectors of the GOP to run. He could be doing it to satisfy his own curiosity. Or, he could be seriously thinking about running for President and testing focus groups to see how a reversal of his previous emphatic denials, along with statements where he basically said he didn’t think he was ready to be President, would be received by the public. It’s all very confusing, and very interesting. I can honestly say that I cannot recall an election before this where so many potential candidates — Ryan, Palin, Christie, — were still openly flirting with the idea of running for President this late in the cycle.

As much as I like Christie, though, I cannot see what his path to victory would actually be. His national reputation is built largely on his outspokenness in public and his governing style, which most of the people who like him have only viewed from afar. In New Jersey, the public views of Chris Christie aren’t quite so complimentary:

Christie’s job performance numbers have come back a little bit from a June dip, with 47 percent approving of his job performance and 46 percent disapproving. But for all of Christie’s talk of bipartisanship, he does not enjoy much bipartisan support himself among voters: 84 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.

Voters mostly disapprove of the way Christie is handling education, his signature issue this year. With a heavily partisan split, 52 percent of voters disapprove of how he his handling education, while 44 percent approve.

More importantly, when you get down to the dirty business of actually running a state like New Jersey, there’s plenty in Christie’s public statements that Tea Party and social conservatives would have problems with. He’s opposed efforts to open the ocean off New Jersey to offshore drilling. He’s supporter a regional version of Cap & Trade. He backed the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. He’s pro-life, but not radically so. And, most recently, he stood up against the anti-Muslim nonsense that seems to resonate so well among certain quarters of the GOP. Does anyone really see him doing well in the South, or a state like Iowa, against candidates like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry? I certainly don’t.

For what it’s worth, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin reports on Twitter that her sources close to Christie deny the focus groups story. So, all of this may be for nothing. Nonetheless, I think its a sign of the still lingering dissatisfaction with the GOP field that we’re even seeing stories like this. Even with Perry in the race, some Republicans are clearly deeply concerned that, even with the bad economy, they may not have the right field to take on Barack Obama in the fall of 2012.

Update: The Christie camp is denying the original report, and Alter seems to be backing off as well:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s office is shooting down a report that he is rethinking his decision not to join the GOP presidential race in 2012.

Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Alter tweeted early Wednesday afternoon that Christie had been “conducting focus groups in preparation for a possible run for president in 2012.”

Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella issued a flat denial, telling The Fix that the report is “absolutely not true.”

Alter has also backed off his original report, tweeting that a different source that he trusts and is very reliable told him that there were no focus groups and that nothing has changed

So, there’s that.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHibilly says:

    call me when he declares.

    Nonetheless, I think its a sign of the still lingering dissatisfaction with the GOP field that we’re even seeing stories like this.

    that is the real story here. They want a savior… a 2nd coming…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. MBunge says:

    The Christie and Ryan talk is an expression of how the GOP establishment understands that Mitt Romney is simply unacceptable to a huge chunk of the party base they’ve pushed further and further into inchoate rage and resentment and that Rick Perry is totally unprepared for the demands and challenges of a Presidential campaign.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. In New Jersey, the public views of Chris Christie aren’t quite so complimentary:

    But pretty much every Republican candidate is underwater in their home state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. Wayne says:

    RE “They want a savior… a 2nd coming…”

    No what we want is the best person for the job. How terrible.

    Maybe it is a candidate that has already declared and maybe not. I am not sure why so many are against vetting out a wide field of candidates. I am much more satisfied with the current field of candidates than what we had last time. I have no problem with more quality candidates throwing their hats in the ring either.

    IMO the willingness of quality candidates running in or looking at running in the Presidential primary shows how vulnerable Obama is. That seldom happens when the incumbent President is looking strong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    You have to understand the demographics of the GOP primary base to understand the never-ending dissatisfaction with the field.

    To a large extent these are spoiled-brat malcontents. They’d be dissatisfied with any collection of candidates. It’s a function of privilege and of being in a cocooned atmosphere. Big homes in the suburbs. Private schools from cradle to graduation. Inheritence. They want the “perfect” candidate. They want ideological “purity.” Nobody ever taught them that in life you can’t always get your way.

    Then there’s a demographic that votes literally based upon religion. They’re not able to separate their church from their politics. They want their president to be like the pastor of their church. Or like Jesus Christ.

    The only saving grace, believe it or not, is that despite the louder microphone for the “my way or the highway” set a large majority of Republicans out there are a lot more sentient, a lot more pragmatic and a lot less dogmatic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  6. An Interested Party says:

    No what we want is the best person for the job.

    And who would that person be…

    IMO the willingness of quality candidates running in or looking at running in the Presidential primary shows how vulnerable Obama is. That seldom happens when the incumbent President is looking strong.

    What a revelation, considering the state of the economy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Brutalfacts says:

    @Wayne:

    I see this quite the opposite. The weak field of GOP candidates shows Obama’s strength and the lack of quality GOP candidates means many are sitting this one out. Establishment GOP may just have to hope for a Tea Party led bloodbath at the polls killing the Tea Party off once and for all. This would allow for a GOP re-positioning in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  8. David M says:

    I’m still not sure the “draft Ryan, Christie, Palin, etc” talk means that much yet. A good comparison is the 2004 election and there was some similar discussion among Democrats, as Wesley Clark didn’t officially announce his candidacy until September 2003. He didn’t do much though and I don’t think there’s much of a history of joining the primary this late and still winning. It is reasonable to assume the eventual Republican nominee is already running.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. bACHMANN pERRY oVERDRIVE (formerly Hey Norm) says:

    The Republican front-runner at this point in time relative to the election almost always goes on to win the nomination. Looks like Mr. Perry is the chosen one. Suh-weeeet. Nothing like a Texas Teavangelical to get the moderates of the country excited.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. WR says:

    @bACHMANN pERRY oVERDRIVE (formerly Hey Norm): Yes, but in general that front runner has been the front runner all along. There simply hasn’t been a stable front runner in this race — unless you count Romney… and why would you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brutalfacts: That’s exactly what I was thinking. The establishment Republicans would love to get control of their party back. They would not mind a Tea Party nominee who would get beat badly which combined with the defeat of most of the Tea Party congress members would discredit the movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Wayne says:

    @AIP
    I’m not sure yet. Unlike like liberals I like to examine my candidates then decide instead on jumping on some fad candidate bandwagon and singing “he is the one so let us get behind him”. There are a few that are not running I wouldn’t mind getting a closer look at. Paul Ryan, Christie, Rubio to name a few. Biggest problem with Rubio is he is a first term Senator. First term Senators as Presidents have been disasters so far. At least Rubio has more than vague hopey ideas.

    @Brutalfacts
    I suspect that what many on the left would think. They as well as liberal Republicans probably think if they don’t like them then the candidate is weak. The standard should be how the candidate stands in their party. If many of the party’s popular and\or up and comer are getting in the race then it shows they think their party has a good chance to win the Presidency. If they all sit out then it is the opposite.

    Of course that perception may not prove to be true as was the case when Clinton went into a weak field of candidates and ended up winning the Presidency. Clinton is also an example of what many consider a weak Candidate that turn out not to be that weak.

    @Ron
    And what happens if the Tea Party is successful? They were pooh pooh and said to have no chance in the last election and they proved to be quite successful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Wayne says:

    By the way, I prefer to have a conservative Republican lose than a liberal one win. Replacing a liberal with a liberal doesn’t accomplish much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. PJ says:

    Fitch just downgraded New Jersey to AA-.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. FactCheck NJ says:

    Christie pulled out of the regional cap and trade program back in May.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHibilly says:

    @PJ: BUT…. Wayne still ”I prefer to have a conservative Republican lose than a liberal one win. ” Whacko’s………….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. OzarkHibilly says:

    and Wayne, in case you have not figured it out, that is one and the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Franklin says:

    He’s opposed efforts to open the ocean off New Jersey to offshore drilling. He’s supporter a regional version of Cap & Trade. He backed the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. He’s pro-life, but not radically so. And, most recently, he stood up against the anti-Muslim nonsense that seems to resonate so well among certain quarters of the GOP.

    Nice, that’s at least 80% good from my point of view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0