Now That Chris Christie Is Really, Truly, Absolutely Not Running, Republicans Will Have To Make Their Peace With Mitt…

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Oct. 4 2011 3:57 PM

"Now Is Not My Time"

With Chris Christie’s announcement, the Republicans continue their search for an alternative to Mitt Romney.

(Continued from Page 1)

The volume of the entreaties is what made him reconsider. At his press conference he told the story of a Nebraska farmer who sent a Fed Ex to Christie’s children, telling them to let their father off the hook about missing games and not spending time with them if he ran. At one point, he said, in the middle of the night, his wife told him: "If you want to run, go for it. Don't worry about me and the kids."

If he'd decided to run, perhaps Christie could have overcome his soft poll numbers. But conversations with party activists suggest he would have gotten a frosty reception. He held moderate positions on such issues as immigration and civil unions. He would have had to defend these while simultaneously building a fundraising organization and political operation.

Advertisement

Plus, the instincts that made Christie attractive as a governor might have been hard to translate. Blunt talk may work in New Jersey, or in Texas, but as Perry’s campaign is proving, it doesn’t always translate well to the national stage. (Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana worried this issue might have doomed his candidacy.) Lamar Alexander, a governor who twice ran for president, has said the difference between campaigning statewide and campaigning nationally is the difference between "playing in your backyard versus playing in the NBA."

In addition to the many logistical and political hurdles to the Christie candidacy, there were conceptual issues. One of the chief Republican complaints against President Obama is that he lacked experience—but Christie has served a shorter amount of time as governor of New Jersey than Obama did as senator from Illinois before he ran for president. Another chief complaint against Obama is that he just mouths pretty words. When I talked to Republicans about why they like Christie, they almost always mentioned his style of speaking.

Of course, Sarah Palin still circles the field—but it's too late, especially with the Iowa caucuses now possibly 35 days earlier than originally scheduled. Besides, her poll numbers are abysmal, with 66 percent of Republicans saying they don’t want her to run, in a recent ABC/Washington Post poll. Any more flirtations or late candidacies run the risk of making the party look ridiculous and wasting more energy on what is essentially an intramural feud in a year when Republicans have of a very good chance of winning the presidency.

In the end, Christie’s decision shows prudence and restraint, although he did go on—his press conference lasted almost an hour and was so chatty it seemed he might dandle one of the members of the press on his knee. He whacked Obama for his lack of leadership, helping the eventual GOP nominee, and repeatedly he praised his own state, using the occasion of turning down a chance at presidential power as an opportunity to build his power base as governor. These are wise moves showing political and strategic savvy. Let the speculation commence: Christie 2016, anyone?

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?