Christie Now Allegedly “Seriously Considering” Presidential Race

And, the week closes out with another round of rumors about New Jersey's Governor.

As the week comes to a close, the speculation about Chris Christie entering the Presidential race continues, with the latest reports coming from New Jersey’s largest newspaper:

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Chris Christie is seriously rethinking his months of denials and may launch a campaign for the White House after all, a source close to the governor said tonight.

In the last week, Christie has been swayed away from his earlier refusals to run by an aggressive draft effort from a cadre of Republicans and donors unhappy with the GOP field, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Christie has a small window of opportunity to make his final decision, and some political experts think he has only days to declare.

Critical deadlines are approaching, such as the Oct. 31 filing date for the crucial Florida primary.

(…)

After more than a year of saying he isn’t interested in the presidency, Christie softened his denials this week. He no longer says he’s unprepared for the White House or that he lacks the requisite fire in the belly for a national campaign.

In addition, the Governor’s wife, Mary Pat, no longer objects to a presidential run, according to an adviser to the governor.

The governor has famously said “my wife would kill me” as a reason not to run. However, a few months ago former first lady Barbara Bush called Mary Pat to assuage her concerns about life in the White House, the adviser said.

The New York Post reported today that Christie had a change of heart after speaking with former First Lady Nancy Reagan and was now reconsidering.

We’ve seen this speculation go back and forth for at least a week now, some close to him, such as his own brother, have said he isn’t running while others have claimed that he is.  The only statement we have from Christie himself is what he said in the Q&A after his speech at the Reagan Library, which some in the media interpreted as leaving the door open, but which sounded to me like a repetition of his previous statement that he wasn’t. Given all of that, I’m not at all sure what to make of these new reports. They seem like more of the same rumors, but Joe Gandelman sees something more significant:

It sounds like someone on his staff. The source’s identity is being fiercely protected. I did stories when I was on newspapers where this kind of source was sometimes the person who was being written about. Editors usually sign off on the use of this kind of technique if they know the person’s name and it is considered solid.

Perhaps so, but even if it true it still brings up all the questions I’ve raised before about a Chris Christie candidacy, especially in light of this report from the Wall Street Journal:

The Christie boom is being fueled by dissatisfaction with the party’s current roster of candidates by some in the GOP. But because of his largely unexamined policy positions, Christie watchers in New Jersey predict the governor might not end that soul-searching if he decides to run.

“Conservatives are enthused,” said Patrick Murray, chief pollster at New Jersey’s Monmouth University. “But when they get to know him, they might not feel quite so enthusiastic.”

Christie backers, such as billionaire John Catsimatidis, argue the governor’s core appeal lies in his character and style, and less so in his individual positions.

I’ve long suspected that most of the reasons that national Republicans like Chris Christie have more to do with his blunt, plain-spoken style and less to do with an analysis of what he’s done during the 20 months or so he’s actually held office. More importantly, as I’ve noted before, Christie would seem to post a problem for many on the right because of positions he holds a number of hot-button issues:

1. During the 2009 campaign for governor, Christie endorsed New Jersey’s relatively strict gun control laws. He also won the endorsement of the New Jersey Environmental Foundation, becoming the first statewide Republican to do so in 30 years.

2. Just a few months ago, he stated in a speech that global warming was “real” and “manmade,” adding that “when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”

3. Christie has accused conservatives in his state of demagoguery on immigration. And in 2008, while he was still a U.S. Attorney, he told a New Jersey Latino organization that ”Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime. The whole phrase of ‘illegal immigrant’ connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime.” The comment prompted Lou Dobbs to call for Christie’s resignation. Christie’s staff later explained he was merely making a technical point about the law.

Christie has also distanced himself from the GOP’s “Drill Baby Drill” rhetoric on energy policy by supporting a ban on drilling off the coast of New Jersey. he supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, and he’s received criticism from some quarters on the right for not joining the multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. In other words, he’s more like Mitt Romney than Rick Perry, and given the antipathy of most Tea Party activists and movement conservatives toward Romney, it’s unclear why they’d rally around another politician so similar to him in many ways.

Do Christie’s supporters really think that his style is going to be enough to make up for all this, or to make up for the numerous occasions on which he’s not only said that he doesn’t want to run for President, but that he didn’t think he was ready?

Maybe it will, but the more likely possibility is that Republican voters will start becoming disenchanted with Christie the more they learn about him:

In modern politics, “savior” candidates are never again as popular as they are the day before they announce. To start down the list of reasons: Neither opposing candidates nor the press can unleash all-out hostile-investigative scrutiny on a mere “potential” candidate. But the instant the candidate declares, anything goes. A teasing, courted candidate in “will he or won’t he?” mode — Chris Christie, as of this moment — spends all day every day being told how great he is. A real candidate spends all day begging for money; facing the risk of errors; and knowing the certainty of making enemies and giving offense. The errors come from debates, press ops, responses to criticism. The offense comes from having to choose sides on policy issues that a non-candidate can ignore or finesse.

Exactly. If this were April, and Christie hadn’t spent so much time essentially saying he didn’t believe he was prepared to be President, then it might be a different story. At this late date, with little actual evidence that Republican voters are dissatisfied with the current field, this insider clamor for Christie to enter the race strikes me as little more than a pipe dream. If Christie is smart, he’ll ignore the siren songs being whispered in his ear.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    If Christie is smart he will wait until 2016.

  2. legion says:

    If Christie is smart, he’ll ignore the siren songs being whispered in his ear.

    Exactly. Mitch Daniels was smart enough to realize he was just being used by the GOP upper-crust to stir the pot & try to get Romney to be more arch-conservative. Perry’s as dumb as a box of hammers, and immediately said “why sure – I’d love to run!” and is now getting beaten up by the intense scrutiny given to someone who actually steps onto this stage.

    Christie is a life-long New Jersey politician, who’s currently the Governor. Whether you like his politics and confrontational style or not, it’s simply not plausible that he’s clean – nobody gets to that sort of position in NJ without a history that would make Bernie Kerik look like a boy scout. He’s just being used to frighten the current crop of nominees – if you think the GOP powermakers are unhappy about Romney being the frontrunner, how do you think they would _really_ feel about hob-nobbing with Christie? They wouldn’t even let him into their country clubs…

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Also, if he is not fully prepared for this run, he might botch any future chance of running. For every Reagan that scores on his second effort, there are three or four Fred Thompsons or Giulianis that won’t be given another chance.

  4. ponce says:

    Anyone else picture Christie pacing back and forth on a narrow ledge while the wingnuts gathered below him yell, “Jump!”

  5. Herb says:

    Well, first I think you’re reading too much into the polls that show no voter dissatisfaction with the GOP field at this point. The field is so large and unsettled that any dissatisfaction may not even show up in the polls yet. Everyone’s popular in the first episode of Survivor, so to speak.

    Secondly, I think the flailing around for Republican candidates can only be seen as a warning signal. Go back six months and everyone was talking about Donald Trump. Now they’re talking about adding Christie, shortly after adding Perry. The election is over a year away, true, but it seems pretty obvious we’re looking at a party still searching for a leader. (That Bush never left a clear successor is a contributing factor, I’d say.)

    Sad thing is that I don’t get the sense that many rank and file Republicans even want a leader. What they want is someone pliable enough to mold into an image of themselves. Think Sarah Palin. As we’re seeing with Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, if you diverge from right wing orthodoxy, even for humanitarian or practical reasons, you will be swiftly punished.

    All appearances aside, Christie isn’t a big ball of dough and he’s not just going to do the right’s bidding. For that reason, I don’t expect Christie to go very far if he does run. The base wants dough and he’s already a loaf of bread.

  6. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Herb:

    It was the same with Obama. Presidential candidates have always been targets for people cast their own political projections on, whether grounded in the slightest bit of reality or not. Hence the subsequent “disillusionment.”

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @ponce:

    Anyone else picture Christie pacing back and forth on a narrow ledge while the wingnuts gathered below him yell, “Jump!”

    No, a mental picture of Christie on a narrow ledge just doesn’t work. A wide ledge, yes.

    How many clowns can the Republicans get in that little car?

  8. Fiona says:

    If he wants to run, he’d be smart to wait for 2016 after the Republican party self-immolates. While his positions may be similar to Romney’s, his style certainly isn’t. I’ve rarely seen Romney come off as anything but a bland, unctuous corporate executive. Christie’s blunt style is much more appealing.

    In the meantime, he might want to get some diet and exercise advice from Mike Huckabee. A presidential campaign is a marathon and he’s in no shape to run it. If I were his wife, I’d be truly worried about his health should he decide to run.

  9. ponce says:

    How many clowns can the Republicans get in that little car?

    Haha, quite a few, but considering the large leads Mitt Romney now has in the early primary states, this could be the shortest Republican primary ever.

  10. Brett says:

    Christie backers, such as billionaire John Catsimatidis, argue the governor’s core appeal lies in his character and style, and less so in his individual positions.

    Is that even true? I’ve never heard of Christie being described as “charismatic” – just “blunt” and “abrasive”.

    In any case, supposed “character” and “style” are poor qualities to use to define a possible candidate. Remember how the media seemed to think that Fred Thompson would change the 2008 Republican Nomination Fight with his “Reaganesque” charm before he actually got in the race?

  11. Hey Norm says:

    Like a Donut wrapped in bacon, the Governor can’t resist the flattery.
    Best thing about him running is Jersey has a shot at getting a better Governor.

  12. Hey Norm says:

    Anyone have any insight into the GOP’s fixation with half-term Governors?

  13. samwide says:

    @PD Shaw:

    there are three or four Fred Thompsons

    I heard Craig Crawford say the other night that a current Republican joke is “We’re all looking for Ronald Reagan but we can’t even find Fred Thompson.”

  14. Hey Norm says:

    Christie when leaving the hospital in July:

    “…I weigh too much because I eat too much,” he said. “And I eat some bad things too…”

    It appears that weakness also applies to attention seeking. Mr. Tough Guy doesn’t seem to be able to resisit the flattery offered up on a platter by the GOP establishment.
    Interesting that Romney managed to complete an entire term…but has his accomplishments dragging him down. Perry has managed to complete an entire term but his so-called Texas Miracle under examination looks more like a Texas Mirage.
    Christie on the other hand has really done nothing so there’s nothing to pin him down on. Palin was pretty much the same deal.
    Maybe that’s the draw for the GOP. T-Paw showed in MInnesota that the Republican platform just leads to huge deficits. Perry’s Texas is looking at years of soft growth and a $6B budget short-fall. Indeed – I challenge anyone to point to an example of slashing taxes and spending and limiting the size of Government succeeding on any sort of long-term basis. It appears the best example of Republican ideology is one that doesn’t actually exist.
    In the meantime the BY-Stander in Chief struck another major blow to al Qaida with the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.
    Have a nice day.