The national political melodrama over whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will jump into what many consider to be the tepid 2012 Republican Presidential nomination race sounds like it could indeed...really…no joking…not kidding…end with him NOT becoming the Republican version of Mario “Hamlet” Cuomo, who pondered whether to run for President so long that his political moment that he exasperated partisans and his political moment passed him by: a New Jersey newspaper reports that is seriously considering entering the race.
To be sure, there have been (zillions of) reports the past few weeks, including one yesterday from the New York Post. And each time a report comes out Christie has pulled back from biting the low-hanging political apple. But some of the earlier stories appeared to be the kinds of stories political operatives or anonymous sources try to plant to bring about a specific outcome — in this case getting Christie to enter. And the Post story was — correctly or not — a bit suspect since it came from Rupert Murdoch’s lively newspaper which some could suspect used the piece as a tool to pressure Christie (even though newspaper editorial operations on newspapers are indeed divorced from the reporting staff and that kind of conspiracy theory usually turns out to be baldersdash, except for political partisans who create their own realities).
But this report is one that should perk up the ears of the others in the GOP race — and the White House. From the Star Ledger:
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.
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.
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.
The governor on Tuesday lashed out at President Obama’s leadership during a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. — at which audience members implored him to run, He did not say he would run but stopped short of saying no.
At a campaign rally here today for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Christie continued to criticize Obama’s leadership, but ignored several questions from reporters about whether he would seek the White House.
“If you’re looking for leadership in America you’re not going to find it in the Oval Office,” Christie said today in Baton Rouge.
And, yes, it does sound like someone testing the waters..
The rally and a fundraiser afterward capped off a cross-country tour by the governor, where his Reagan Library speech Tuesday served to only stoke speculation that he might reverse course and seek the Republican nomination for president.
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.
Some interesting aspects of the Christie political saga that is unfolding:
If he gets in the big question will be whether he’ll have to try and change his views that don’t conform the existing Tea Party viewpoints or make the argument along with establishment types that he can beat Obama and give the Tea Party and Republican Party most of what he wants. But, as I noted last night, he already has a storm cloud on his political horizon: Rush Limbaugh is expressing doubts about him.
Christie most assuredly is a talented politician who is fun, funny and enraging to listen to depending on your viewpoint. But unlike many, he doesn’t seem to be vomiting up talking points (he is no Rick Perry).
Unless he changes some views, he won’t fit into the Tea Party type. And the Republican establishment likes him. Reports have not come out yet about how the Bush family feels about him.
A question will be if he gets in: would he take votes away from Perry or Romney? And will those two handle him with kid gloves?
And if after all of this he doesn’t run?
Analysts who say his moment is totally passed don’t know what they are talking about, unless they have an excellent record as psychic. The REALITY is no one knows where the US, the Democrats or Republicans will be in 2016. This KIND of moment will have passed if he doesn’t run.
His biggest obstacle will be that people will not take him as seriously again. To some, he’ll be considered in the same class as Mario Cuomo, who couldn’t decide…or a Ralph Nader who like clockwork seems ready to run for President or do something to try and undercut a Democratic candidate for President. He won’t have the same purity — but he might gain some credibility because it would show that his earlier statements that he would absolutely, most assuredly, bet-your-life-on-it not enter the race were correct. Yes, he can sell the idea that the clamor from the people (rich donors and powerful Republicans, but those terms won’t be used) forced him to reconsider.
His future won’t be over.
But if I was Barack Obama, I’d be sweating a little more because charisma, personality, and a degree of genuiness may be entering the Republican race and it’ll be harder to just paint this guy as Tea Party.