Remember back in 2011 when there were people literally begging Chris Christie to run for President on an almost daily basis? All of that heat evaporated over the last two months, starting with Christie’s praise of Barack Obama after hurricane Sandy. But George Will makes the case that Christie is still a GOP front-runner or should be by 2016:
His budget for 2013 calls for spending less than did the state’s 2008
budget. He has vetoed a tax on millionaires three times. He has
scrapped, exuberantly, with public employee unions. In the aftermath of
Superstorm Sandy, 41,000 families are still homeless.
Nevertheless, 61 percent of his constituents think the state is on the
right track, more than twice the 27 percent who thought so when he
entered office three years ago. His 74 percent job approval
rating includes 56 percent among Democrats and 78 percent among
independents. This in a state where only 29 percent view the Republican
Party favorably. And New Jersey is one of just three states (with New
York and Maryland) in which Barack Obama improved upon his 2008 margin
of victory (18 points, up from 16).
Not mentioned by Will is Christie’s 69 percent approval among women or the fact that a majority of Black and Hispanic voters also approve of his job performance. It’s also worth noting that New Jersey’s demographics are pretty close to that of the nation as a whole.
Some are now saying the party’s path back to power depends on finding a magnetic candidate who is able to transcend political (and ethnic) lines, much the way Reagan did with so-called Reagan Democrats. Humble, awkward Mitt was never that candidate, neither was John McCain. But look at those NJ polling numbers again and keep in mind this isn’t a post-election honeymoon. Christie is three years in to a contentious first term battling a Democratic legislature and unions who want his head on a pike. Irritation with some of his recent statements aside, who is that outstanding candidate if not Chris Christie?