The Christie Cometh

This is Chris Christie’s moment. The New Jersey governor is touring the country in support of Republican candidates. He’s taken on the public sector unions. He’s made some hard calls. He speaks in a blunt, confrontational style. Yet he remains popular. Most striking, he’s a Republican from the Northeast who has national appeal. Last week Christie won a Tea Party presidential straw poll–in Virginia. In September, he came in second in another straw poll–held in Chicago.

Christie denies any interest in the top job. But he’s clearly a born executive. A pro-lifer, he has none of the social-issues baggage that has harmed Northeast Republicans in past primaries. He has a record to be proud of. He’s incredibly well spoken. Other than Paul Ryan, I can’t think of another Republican officeholder who gets conservatives as excited as Christie does.

Skeptics might say that 2012 is too early for Christie to run for president. After all, he was only elected in 2009. He’ll have been in office for only two years when Iowans caucus in 2012. Surely that’s not enough time to launch a successful national campaign.

Or is it? The last president from New Jersey, as it happens, won office only two years after becoming governor of the Garden State. I know, Woodrow Wilson isn’t a popular name to throw around these days. But Wilson was a progressive Democrat; the current governor of New Jersey is a conservative Republican. And America could do a lot worse than a President Christie. In fact, it already is.

  1. Kenneth
    Matthew Continetti:

    A pro-lifer, he has none of the social-issues baggage that has harmed Northeast Republicans in past primaries.

    Well, at least you made it to the second paragraph before referencing the “pro-lifer” litmus test.

    What does the community think – if Christie was pro-choice, would that disqualify him?

  2. Jerry Carroll

    Why pick that fight now?

    I’m waiting to see if he backs down on the tunnel.

  3. Kenneth
    Your Grace: Why pick that fight now?

    I’m waiting to see if he backs down on the tunnel. · Oct 13 at 9:52am

    Because Matthew found it necessary, pro forma, to mention it as a qualification.

  4. Palaeologus
    Matthew Continetti: T

    Skeptics might say that 2012 is too early for Christie to run for president.

    Or is it? The last president from New Jersey, as it happens, won office only two years after becoming governor of the Garden State. But Wilson was a progressive Democrat; the current governor of New Jersey is a conservative Republican. ·

    But aren’t progressives always looking for the next big thing? Don’t conservatives tend to be skeptical of the untried?

    I think the guy is great, I’d probably vote for him in a primary. But I doubt Wilson’s (or for that matter, Obama’s) electoral success tells us a great deal about Christie’s chances.

  5. Misthiocracy

    Rather than saying, “isn’t 2012 a little too soon for him to become president,” maybe people should be saying, “he will not have finished his job as governor by 2012.”

    New Jersey needs Christie. If he left to run for president, who knows what kind of yahoo would take his place in the governor’s mansion.

    I’m pretty uncomfortable with the idea that we should poach good governors for the White House before they’ve had enough time to really do a good job at the state level.

    New Jersey isn’t out of the woods yet. There’s a lot more work for Christie to do.

  6. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    I did an extended post on Chris Christie as an example of executive temperament back in June, which might be of interest. He is very, very impressive, but he does have a lot of work to do in New Jersey. Even if he does not run, his accomplishments will be compared with those of every other executive in the country, and his example will bring pressure on them to do what he is doing.

  7. Pseudodionysius
    Paul A. Rahe: I did an extended post on Chris Christie as an example of executive temperament back in June, which might be of interest. He is very, very impressive, but he does have a lot of work to do in New Jersey. Even if he does not run, his accomplishments will be compared with those of every other executive in the country, and his example will bring pressure on them to do what he is doing. · Oct 13 at 10:25am

    If every Governor in the US read Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive just once, I think there’d be a measurable improvement in executive performance.

  8. River

    I’ve liked Christie from the start, and particularly after Corzine made a snarky joke about his weight during the campaign. Christie had an interview the next day with Don Imus, and said, “I’m going to be a big fat winner,” adding sarcastically, “Yeah, I’m about 550 pounds”

    He mentioned his economic stimulus package: “We gotta spur our economy, Don. Dunkin’ Donuts, International House of Pancakes — those people need to work, too.”

    Most amazingly, everyone on Morning Joe – the MSNBC ‘progressive’ peanut gallery – loves Christie, and he appears regularly as a guest.

    He’s charismatic and easy-going, as Sarah Palin is, and it would be fascinating to see them on the podium together.

    It’s a bit early, true. He hasn’t yet had time to prove himself, and I hope he doesn’t commit to anything that distracts or diminishes his effectiveness.

  9. BriarRose

    Already having tremendous respect for Governor Christie, my respect would grow even more if he made a point of finishing the job he has started in New Jersey. That would demonstrate a measurable concern for the people who elected him to the office rather than taking a stab at the next step up in governance.

  10. Frozen Chosen

    Christie is very refreshing and a compelling guy but he needs to finish the job in NJ before he turns his eye to the national stage.

    I was in Alaska earlier this year and folks there are quite bitter about Palin quiting the governorship. Her lack of experience and quitting will hurt her chances in 2012 if she runs. We wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to Gov Christy…

  11. Jonathan Matthew Gilbert

    I don’t think he wants it…just yet. I’d live with the mild hypocrisy I’d feel for supporting him if he decided to run in 2012 because I think he’s just great, but…I think he’s aiming further down the road and that’s probably for the best. The man (or woman) in the office needs to WANT it, they need to WANT to govern the nation (and the world) or it doesn’t work. We’re experiencing right now what it’s like to have a president who wanted the title and the perks but holds complete disdain for the act of governing. I’d rather wait till Christie is really able to give it his all. I’d be open to him as running mate in 2012, though…

  12. herb briggs

    I’m undecided about Christie as a presidential candidate right now. However 2012 could well be a year in which the Republicans would get a pass on running someone with limited experience.

    Yes, I know: they savaged Sarah Palin anyway, but that was before their Annointed One crashed and burned.

    The Dems would have two choices: shut up about Christie’s lack of experience or attack it. Either way they lose. This time around the public would call hypocrisy by its name. The Dems only hope would be to throw Obama under the bus, nominate Hillary, and then attack Christie as a newbie, privately and not-so-privately using Obama’s cluelessness as a bad example.

    Wait a minute… that could work for them! And Hillary is more capable of actually socializing the US than Obama could ever hope to be!

    I have hereby talked myself into being “Anti-Christie for President in 2012″ for that reason!

  13. flownover

    All these screen tests for something that is very far away. A year in politics is an eon in a 24hr news cycle. It’s exciting that we have so many contestants in this beauty contest. Even better that the democrats have no one except those poster children, Glum and Dumber. But let’s not get too excited, there’s a mountain of spadework to be done. All the voter registration rolls are probably corrupt, all the foreign money channels still open, all the bugs in the system have to be fumigated. It is not work that many want to do, but “if it’s close, they’ll steal it” – again. Go watch a poll, take your camera. Do something to show them we’re watching this time. Christie is fantastic, so is Daniels, Palin, Romney, Jeb, Haley, Bobby,… hell, we almost have a baseball team ! But are yet unsure as to what the team name is……..

  14. David Horwich

    Christie ought to wait. I live on the left coast and am constantly filled with wonder at his abilities to take very difficult and complex issues and deliver them to the electorate as if they were actually adults in a concise, understandable and very, very practical way–he communicates as well or better than anybody on the national scene today. Oh, yeah, he’s entertaining as all get out as well…

    But just think how much more gravitas he earns by waiting it out and accomplishing big things in a very difficult to govern state filled with partisans of the opposite nature. It will wake things up nationally in a natural, organic way. He’s a very young guy and has a tremendous political future in front of him; assuming one of ours gets in in ’12 and doesn’t screw it up, then Christie’s next chance will be in ’20.

  15. Kathy Leicester

    If Christie were ok with using the power of the state to take my money to kill unborn children via elective surgery, would that prevent me from voting for him? Yep, it would. If he were for the same, but only in the case of the mother’s life being threatened, I’d vote for him in a minute. I love the fact that he’s plain spoken, and he sticks up for women–think Meg Whitman.

    I hope he doesn’t run in 2012, I think New Jersey needs him.

  16. Duane Oyen

    We all love Chris Christie. He has things to prove first, though, before he should be considered for higher office- the last time (2008) a very green politician ran for high office, we ended up with…. a very green, incompetent ideologue with a huge ego:

    1) Remember- during the NJ primaries, Christie was the RINO, and was criticized by the TEA Party enthusiasts as being insufficiently pure

    2) He needs to get more than one reform budget in place; he won the first round against the legislature, this next one will tell us a lot, because the long knives will be out and they will be ready for him

    3) It is not clear that the more abrasive confrontational style that works well in NJ will play on the national stage. We need to see more, to see how he wears.

    If he passes those tests, great.

  17. Vance Richards

    The education money my town used to get from the state now goes to Newark and Camden. So, even though our teachers took a pay freeze, my property taxes went up about $600 a year under Christie.

    I am hopeful that Christie’s plans will work long-term, but as long as NJ still has the highest combined state and local tax burden in th US, I have a hard time getting excited about the guy (although I do enjoy watching him yell at government union workers).

  18. Jeanne Patterson

    1) Remember- during the NJ primaries, Christie was the RINO, and was criticized by the TEA Party enthusiasts as being insufficiently pure

    Huh? Having attended 2 Pennsylvania Tea Party Christie-for-Governor events in NJ, I’m having trouble remembering any of this purity talk. In fact, there were representatives from various states’ Tea Party groups at these events to show support of Christie.

    This was NJ after all. And nothing like it is now. Heck, I heard more than one person say they wished the GOP hadn’t chosen such a “right-winger” as a candidate.

  19. River
    Jonathan Matthew Gilbert:… The man (or woman) in the office needs to WANT it, they need to WANT to govern the nation (and the world) or it doesn’t work. We’re experiencing right now what it’s like to have a president who wanted the title and the perks but holds complete disdain for the act of governing. I’d rather wait till Christie is really able to give it his all. I’d be open to him as running mate in 2012, though… · Oct 13 at 11:17am

    Well said, I’ll second that. Veritas quidem.

  20. Richard VanderHoek

    I’m mixed on Christie in 2012. Clearly, our nation needs this type of strong, optimistic, “get it done” conservative leadership, but is he ready to take on a far greater challenge of the federal bureaucracy. Taking on the NJ teachers union is admirably (and overdue), but the SEIU is another animal entirely. If he stays in NJ until 2016 and continues building a record of change and progress, he’ll be a shoe-in for President.

    But can we afford Obama from 2012 to 2016? We’ve become such a cynical, divided, disfunctional country in his first 2 years, the thought of a second Obama term scares me.