Romney Veepstakes 2012: Why Mitt Should Pick Chris Christie
My associate editor Richard Barry and I have been predicting Christie for months. For more, see, for example, “‘Husky and Starch’: The best GOP ticket and Obama’s worst nightmare.”
“Romney Faces Pressure From Right to Put Ryan on Ticket,” says the Times.
“Why not Paul Ryan?” asks the Journal.
Well, because then the election could turn on the Ayn-Rand-loving Ryan’s far-right budget slashing tax rates for the rich and slashing Medicare and other essential programs for everyone else. Ryan’s budget didn’t fare well in NY-26, and it likely wouldn’t fare well nationally. It’s Republican orthodoxy, but the provisions it contains are deeply, deeply unpopular.
(Ezra Klein asks why conservatives want Ryan. And looks at why Romney may want him as well — to take a necessary risk, to run on “big ideas,” to pander to the right (as usual), and “to diffuse the blame if he loses.” Plus, as Jon Chait notes, Romney maybe forced by conservatives and current circumstances to make the sexy Ryan pick.)
The two frontrunners to be Romney’s running mate appear to be Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman, two of those “boring white guys” everyone seems to think make up Mitt’s wish list.
I’m not convinced. More specifically, I think the whole “boring white guy” thing is a diversion.
Sure, Pawlenty and Portman are Romney’s kind of guys, more or less, and perhaps he feels genuinely comfortable with them. But think of the collective yawn picking either one would produce throughout the media and electorate. Picture Romney walking out on some stage somewhere with a boring white guy at his side.
And that goes for John Thune and Bob McDonnell as well as Pawlenty and Portman.
This is not to say that I’m expecting a completely out-of-the-box pick. It won’t be Condi Rice and it won’t be General Petraeus. And it probably won’t be a woman either — that is, either Susana Martinez or Kelly Ayotte.
And so, I think, we’re left with four: Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and, yes, Paul Ryan.
All four would ignite the party’s right-wing base. All four are, each in his own way, exciting. But let’s start crossing them off the list:
I don’t think Romney wants to have to deal with Ryan’s budget plan. Mitt has carefully avoided giving specifics about his policy agenda, while Ryan, while not being entirely honest about just how he’d pay for his tax cuts for the rich (carefully avoiding too much talk of specific spending cuts, most of which would be unpopular), is generally detail-oriented. So it won’t be Ryan.
Rubio would help Romney in Florida, but his appeal otherwise is limited and he’s too inexperienced for the national stage at this point. (2016? Maybe.) He’d be a sexy pick, the young up-and-comer beloved on the right, but I’m not sure Romney’s really all that comfortable with him. So it won’t be Rubio.
That leaves us with Jindal and Christie. And, to me, it’s a toss-up.
Jindal has more conservative cred, and of course isn’t white, but he’s not terribly exciting otherwise — though the media would see any non-boring white guy as an exciting pick. Yes, I can see Jindal on the stage with Romney. Makes sense.
But I’m sticking with the person I’ve thought for months it was going to be: New Jersey Governor and bullying blowhard Chris Christie.
Yes, he’s been out of the national spotlight recently, but that just means his re-emergence would be all the more dramatic. (And you know this whole Veepstakes thing is calculated for effect.) And he and Romney genuinely seem to like each other. They’re very different, but they seem to have some sort of yin and yang thing going, Romney the privileged, rich, self-entitled elitist, Christie the aggressive, fast-talking bully who does the rich guy’s dirty work.
Christie isn’t necessarily a right-wing ideologue of the kind desired by conservatives, but he’s a fighter who would take the fight directly to President Obama. Conservatives would love that. It would fulfill, at least during the heat of the campaign, their wild fantasies about this anti-American foreign interloper being taken down by force, being given the drubbing/lynching he deserves.
There wouldn’t any yawn.
Picture Romney walking out on stage with Christie. Think of Christie’s forceful personality. Think of his aggressive speech. Think of Romney standing there like a doofus with an ear-to-ear grin. Think of Republicans everywhere wetting themselves.
Makes perfect sense, no?
(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)