Behind the scenes, Chris Christie’s team is doing a lot of things to prepare the New Jersey governor to run for president in 2016. But publicly he remains quiet about any upcoming announcements.
Christie sources say that the New Jersey Governor is “working on his own timetable” for 2016. Meanwhile, though, the race is starting without him. Sen. Ted Cruz has already launched his campaign, Sen. Rand Paul is preparing his expected April 7 announcement, and Sen. Marco Rubio has confirmed on April 13 announcement of his intentions.
During his town hall last week, Christie made it obvious what his own timetable was.
“We’re in the process of making that decision,” Christie when asked about his 2016 intentions. “And I’ll make a decision by late spring early summer on what I’m going to do.”
Christie is not giving up on his national ambitions yet, but rather placing more focus on New Jersey state issues while other 2016 presidential hopefuls are gearing up for announcements and national campaigns.
Right now, the governor is focusing intently on the budget. He’s placing special emphasis on reaching a pension/benefit deal with New Jersey Democrats.
“The biggest consideration is that he is the governor of a tough state with a hostile Democrat-run legislature, and they are in the midst of negotiating the annual budget and the next phase of his pension and benefit reforms he is trying to get them to pass,” a Christie source explained to Breitbart News.
As part of his strategy, Christie is hosting multiple weekly town halls in New Jersey to pressure Democrats to come around to his way of thinking.
“The only chance these reforms have of happening are through his leadership and presence,” the source explained.
The town halls also serve as an opportunity to burnish his national campaign credentials, and remind voters of his communication abilities.
Last week, Christie brought his wife Mary Pat to a town hall, praising her for her efforts in the state and her assistance to his career. His team also promoted a town hall exchange with a union member, recalling the tough, truth-telling governor from the old days.
That endeared Christie to many who saw him as a no-nonsense governor who’d managed to get elected in a blue state – something he accomplished before Rubio, Cruz, and Paul were even in the Senate.
But among conservatives, that image took a hit when he traveled with Barack Obama in post-Hurricane Sandy New Jersey during the 2012 presidential election. Then, the warm bi-partisan image embraced by the media during his re-election campaign took a hit in the media after the George Washington Bridge scandal erupted.
In recent months, Christie watched his polling numbers fade as the race for 2016 heats up. He’s losing support both in the state and across the nation among Republicans.
The decision to wait might reflect a growing understanding of the Republican presidential field by establishment candidates.
In 2008, Christie watched as multiple candidates flamed out on the stump before donors begged him to run against Mitt Romney.
Although Jeb Bush is taking up a lot of the establishment oxygen in the field with his exploratory stage, he is still approaching a run cautiously, admitting he might wait to officially announce his run until at least mid-summer.
If Bush stumbles out of the “official” starting gate, establishment Republicans might be willing to turn to someone else.
It’s possible that Christie might be in a position for “comeback kid” status by mid-summer if his political fortunes change.
The federal bridge closing investigation might be completed by then. If it exonerates Christie, it might be a launching point for his political revival. If he reaches a big enough deal in the New Jersey budget process, he could be looking at a wider path to entering the Republican race.