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.