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There are now signs that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is gearing up to try and get the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. And if you don’t believe me, well, then let me tell you a convincing story about how major traffic on a famous bridge linking New York and New Jersey was completely caused by a traffic study and then exploited by a totally blameless Governor’s ruthless political enemies.
Christie, who has been anathema to many in the Tea Party and many conservative talk show hosts, is now talking very much like someone trying to shed his traditional Republican conservative or more moderate creds and move right.
For instance, as polls widespread acceptance of gay marriage, he’s urging his party to keep the debate (i.e. opposition) going:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday that the GOP shouldn’t stop debating same-sex marriage, despite shifting national attitudes and a string of court decisions that have overturned gay marriage bans.
“I don’t think there’s some referee who stands up and says, ‘OK, now it’s time for you to change your opinion,’” he told reporters at a gathering of the National Governors Association in Nashville. “The country will resolve this over a period of time. But do I think it’s resolved? No.”
Still, he added, the issue is “settled” in New Jersey, unless there’s an unexpected change in the state’s solidly Democratic legislature.
Christie, who opposes same-sex marriage, drew flak from conservatives for deciding to halt a court battle over the issue last year. He said Saturday that he made the call because he would have lost anyway.
“When I know that I’ve been defeated, you don’t bang your head against the wall anymore and spend taxpayer money to do it,” said Christie, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
And then there’s the Middle East. The AP reports:
Partly blaming unrest in the Middle East on President Barack Obama, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday that Obama has not spoken firmly and forcefully on Israel’s behalf and that the country no longer trusts it has the full support of the United States because of him.
The Republican governor’s remarks came as Israel targeted civilian institutions with suspected ties to the militant organization Hamas and declared it would step up its bombardment of northern Gaza. Israel says it is acting in self-defense against Hamas rockets.
Christie cited the violence sparked by the deaths of three Israeli teenagers and said organizations like Hamas that are engaged in such conflict with Israel “need to be dealt with, and dealt with firmly.” Obama has not done so during his presidency, Christie told reporters while attending a meeting of the National Governors Association.
“Israel is not sure that they have America’s full support like they used to,” Christie said. “And that’s a real failure of this presidency, in my view….
And who could run for the Republican Presidential nomination without blasting Obamacare?
In what could be the latest move toward a 2016 presidential bid, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) offered a wide-ranging critique of President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies.
Speaking to reporters at the National Governors Association on Saturday, Christie labeled Obamacare, the administration’s signature legislation, a “failure on a whole number of levels” and said it should be repealed.
“But has to be repeal and replace with what. It can’t just be about repeal,” Christie told the audience. “What I’ve said before is, what Republicans need to be doing is putting forth alternatives for what should be a better healthcare system.”
Taken together it most assuredly sounds like someone who’s up and running — someone who believe he has survived “Bridgegate” and other questions swirling around his administration.
And perhaps he’s correct: a poll in New Hampshire has him at the top of the GOP heap when voters are asked about possible 2016 GOP Presidential candidates:
Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential prospects have brightened in the critical state of New Hampshire, according to a poll released today.
But the story would apparently be different if Mitt Romney entered the race.
The WMUR Granite State Poll of residents in New Hampshire — which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary — showed Christie leading all possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
Christie drew 19 percent of the vote, followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (14 percent) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11).
Rounding out the field, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each had 5 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had 3, Texas Gov. Rick Perry had 2, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each had 1. All other candidates received less than 1 percent, and 15 percent said they were undecided.
With months to go before the GOP primary kicks into gear, no candidate has officially declared and the race still appears to be wide open.
But today’s poll shows Christie — whose administration has been beset by multiple investigations at home, including two over the George Washington Bridge scandal — is bouncing back in New Hampshire. His 19 percent standing is higher than his showing in April (14 percent); in January (9), when the bridge controversy made the biggest splash nationally; and in October (16), before the issue erupted.
1. Will Christie’s legal problems subside or grow worse and point more directly at him?
2. Can he convince many in the party’s base that he is a “real” conservative or must someone talking more conservative to win their votes?
3. If he looks like he’s even (excuse the expression, GOP) moderately successful in the primaries, will this spark a stop Christie movement on the right?
4. If it looks like Romney will ride again, will Christie stay in the race or defer?
Chris Christie threatens GOP (and delights Democrats) when he says he plans to "make decisions about running for president" later this year.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) July 13, 2014
— Lawrence Rubin (@lprubin73) July 13, 2014
Chris Christie was asked if he's still thinking of running for President. Christie said, "I'll block that bridge when I come to it."
— Paul Lander (@paul_lander) July 5, 2014
I don't know why people keep speculating about Christie running in 2016. If Christie's running anywhere it's to keep ahead of an indictment.
— RC deWinter (@RCdeWinter) May 16, 2014
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.