The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Community News Network

January 27, 2014

Chris Christie in 2016? Don't count him out yet

His press coverage has been brutal. His poll numbers are dropping. His enemies inside and outside his party are crowing that his presidential ambitions are over, and some journalists agree.

It would nonetheless be a mistake to count out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the Republican nomination in 2016. The scandals that have plagued Christie lately may even, in a roundabout way, make him more likely to win the presidency.

Some skepticism about Christie's presidential chances predates the Fort Lee scandal (in which his subordinates are accused of orchestrating a traffic jam to punish an uncooperative mayor). It's mostly based on the idea that Christie is too liberal to win the primaries. But Christie doesn't cross any of the party's red lines: He's not pro-choice, and he's not for higher taxes.

Sure, you can draw up a list of issues where he has been out of step with most Republicans. But the party's last two nominees had longer lists, with more important issues on them. Mitt Romney had a recent history of supporting legal abortion, and his record on the top domestic issue of the past few years - health care - put him at odds with conservatives. Sen. John McCain had broken with them on taxes, guns, climate change, stem cells, immigration, campaign finance and more.

Most of the last seven Republican nominations have gone to people to the left of the party's center of gravity, and none of them to anyone on its right. Why is that? Think of the nominating contest as a competition for the affection of three groups: the activist-conservative base of the party (groups like the Club for Growth and the Family Research Council), the party regulars (people who consider themselves "conservative" but not "very conservative"), and the party establishment (elected officials, campaign operatives, big donors).

The base typically splits its vote among several candidates, including a few who don't strike the regulars as commander-in-chief material. The establishment always picks someone who passes that test, and usually picks him early in the process, before the first primary votes are cast. (Unlike the base, it doesn't display much imagination in making its choice.) So the establishment candidate usually wins.

The 2016 primary might not shape up this way, but that's the way to bet. The race will almost certainly feature crowding on the right once again, and the establishment still seems to favor Christie over any of his competitors, even after the traffic scandal.

In New Hampshire, Christie should do well, especially if Hillary Clinton dominates the Democratic field. In that case, independents will vote in the competitive Republican primary rather than the dull Democratic one, and they will surely back Christie over candidates running to his right.

Christie was never going to have a coronation, however, and the primaries will still be a slog. Two early states, Iowa and South Carolina, aren't great fits for him. Although he could appeal to a lot of Florida Republicans, he might be running against home-state favorites, such as Sen. Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush. If Bush runs - and his intentions aren't at all clear - then Christie might have a real struggle holding establishment support.

For now, though, Christie's chances of winning the nomination seem better than those of anyone else. And his recent troubles may help him insofar as they cause him to discard a risky strategy. Before the last few weeks, he may have thought that after winning the nomination his sheer charisma would lead him to a general-election victory. Many Republicans think that it was Romney's lack of charisma that lost him the presidency in 2012. That's a mistake: The actual electoral difficulties of the Republican Party run much deeper than that.

The traffic scandal makes it less likely that Christie will go down this blind alley. It has made the downside of his personality loom larger, and so will force him to base his campaign on something else. And because of the nature of the scandal, and the partisan reaction to it, that "something else" can't just be his effectiveness as a manager of government or as a leader who can reach across the aisle.

It seems to me, then, that the most promising path left open for Christie is to run as a Republican from outside the boardroom: someone who will tackle, in conservative ways, the issues that concern Americans in all income groups - from the affordability of health care to wage growth.

If Christie does that, he will also be leading the way forward for his party.

             

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee