Over the last week, the buzz has been building around the idea that Mitt Romney is seriously considering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as his pick for Vice President. Christie has become a rock star among Republicans, conservative and country-clubber alike. But does he make a good candidate for VP? To answer that, here are five pros and five cons on Chris Christie as Romney’s VP.
The conventional wisdom of picking a vice presidential candidate is predicated first on the principle of “do no harm.” The chosen candidate should not hurt the top of the ticket but still be a credible stand-in if the unthinkable happens. This has been violated many times. Does anyone remember Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay?
The VP candidate should also compliment the ticket bringing things the big guy doesn’t have. He should be able to hit the road as the main candidate’s chief advocate, and even be an attack dog able to smash the other side over the head at every appearance.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has some great attributes in this vein, for sure.
Christ Christie for VP? Heck, Yeah!
1). Executive Experience: Christie was a national favorite right away when he became New Jersey’s governor in the GOP tidal wave of 2010 and as soon as he took office he hit the ground running. Some may say that he’s not been governor long enough to be able to claim experience, but he’s done more as governor in these two short years than any half dozen other governors have done in their whole terms. Plus he was a prosecutor so he has a lot of hard experience to rely on.
2). Union Opposition: This is what Christie’s known for most, to be sure. Republicans love Christie’s treatment of the unions and with the change he’s wrought in his state’s fortunes his work has been rewarded. With the run away success of Governor Scott Walker for paring back Wisconsin’s government employee unions, Christie’s example won’t seem like an outlier. Walker only makes Christie’s opposition to unions seem like the vanguard of a national movement. Christie is a budget hawk and in this day and age of trillion-dollar government waste that is a great selling point.
3). High Approval Ratings: Even in the blue, blue state of New Jersey, Governor Christie has been able to keep a favorable approval rating. If chosen he comes to the ticket as a success, not a failure or a borderline failure. He definitely gives the appearance of success.
4). Attack Dog: Christie can easily fill this role. He’s made himself a favorite at conservative conferences and on Youtube for his no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners style. Conservatives love him because he can really put union thugs in their place, he’s a quick wit, and doesn’t spare the enemy. He’s earned a reputation as the take-it-to-’em governor and no one should doubt that on the stump he’d be able to make mincemeat of the Democrats.
5). You Can’t Make Chris Christie Look Stupid: This is something that I don’t think too many people will think about right off. One of the things that happens to a Republican VP candidate is they are instantly portrayed by the media and the Democrats as the most stupid person in human history. Cheney was able to escape this line of attack because the left had him set up as Darth Vader long in advance, but most VP candidates get dismissed as fools almost immediately. No one will be able to make Christie look stupid. He is too canny at the podium to be portrayed as an idiot, he’s far too formidable to be called stupid. (And, lordy, wouldn’t it be great to see Christie shred to pieces Joe “gaffe-a-minute” Biden in a VP debate!)
So much for the five pros. Now the five cons.
Chris Christie for VP? Fuggedaboutit!
1). Christie is Not as Staunchly Conservative as Conservatives Would Like: Despite being so great on unions and the budget, Conservatives fear Chris Christie is not really very conservative on other issues. In many ways he’s a typical east coast. Some of his less than conservative ideas are: He has stated his support for the “science” of global warming, he has said he supports civil unions for gays, he has spoken softly about illegal immigration — once saying that calling someone an “illegal immigrant” is rhetoric that is too harsh — and he has said he approves of New Jersey’s strict gun laws and is an opponent of concealed carry laws. Plus, Christie has evaded signing Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes and he’s praised the work of the Simpson-Bowles commission which suggests he isn’t wholly against the idea of raising taxes. This all means that Christie does not help Romney with conservative credentials. Romney is hardly a conservative and picking a VP candidate that is no more conservative than he, well let’s just say it brings nothing to the ticket to have two moderates on the GOP ticket.
2). Christie Shoots From the Lip Too Much: Christie’s tough talking, lippy attacks on the left have made him beloved by the GOP rank and file, for sure. While this would make him an excellent attack dog as mentioned above, it is also might tend to make him uncontrollable. He could easily gain a reputation as a loose cannon and he’s already had a few tussles with the media just as governor. If he were to become the GOP VP candidate he’d have to dial it back just a bit or risk being made to look like a wild-eyed, screaming, lunatic. Instead of being portrayed as stupid the media will surely try to make him seem like a loose cannon. This could be a draw back.
3). He’ll Overshadow Mitt Romney: Christie is boisterous. Mitt Romney is more milquetoast. Part of the “do no harm” aspect of being a good VP pick is that said candidate can’t become the center of attention. He has to know how to play the game well enough to keep the presidential candidate in the center ring. Can Chris Christie do this? So far he’s a hands on, tough talking, charge-ahead, verging on arrogance character. This has been great as governor, but as a VP pick? Can he suddenly take second seat without hogging the limelight? Speaking of a big shadow, the press and the left will really smack him around for his weight. A sensible person would not hold this against Christie, but leftists and their lapdog media are not sensible people.
4). Christie Does Not Balance the Ticket Regionally: Another one of those bromides for a VP pick is that he should be from a different part of the country. If the presidential candidate is from Massachusetts, the VP should not be from another eastern state. As we see, Christie and Romney are from nearby states, so Christie does not bring another part of the country to Romney’s ticket. Plus neither Christie nor Romney have an easy appeal to rural voters.
5). No Foreign Policy Creds: Few people have been talking about Chris Christie’s thoughts on foreign policy. There’s a reason for that. Christie doesn’t talk about them either. In fact, he has no record of thoughtful foreign policy ideas at all save that in one area — and it’s bad. He’s been far too cozy with radical Islamists in New Jersey. Christie has come under fire by two of the most respected Islam watchers in conservative circles, Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson (not to mention NRO’s Andrew McCarthy) for supporting radical Islamists in New Jersey. While he’s been far too cozy with New Jersey’s radical Muslims, he has no real reputation at all on other foreign policy points. In a world where foreign policy is a very important issue — maybe supremely important — Christie brings absolutely nothing to the table on this.
So, there you have it. Some pros and cons on Jersey’s big guy, Chris Christie. Would he make a good vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party? I report, you decide.