Chris Christie on 2012: Something Something Ronald Reagan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 28 2011 8:59 AM

Chris Christie on 2012: Something Something Ronald Reagan

I previewed Chris Christie's speech last night with a story about how little he'd actually add to the Republican field. Serious budget wonking? You've got that with Mitt Romney. Bold attacks on the status quo? You've got that with Rick Perry. Also, Christie's rep as an unparalleled public speaker is a little bit inflated, a product of our YouTube culture where we meet famous people in short clips.

Case in point: His final answer of Tuesday night, to a woman who passionately (and a little pathetically) begged him to run for president.

Let me just say this, because a lot of people have asked me about this over the course of the last number of weeks and months. And this is all I'll say about that tonight, is that, I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it, and it touches me. Because I can tell ya, I'm just a kid from Jersey, who feels like I'm the luckiest guy in the world, to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state. And so people say to me all the time now, when folks like you say those kinds of things, for as many months as it's being said, you know, Governor, why don't they just leave you alone? You've already given your answer, isn't it a burden. And what I say to you tonight, and say to everybody else who was nice enough to applaud what she said, is that it isn't a burden. I mean, the fact of the matter is that anybody who has an ego large enough to say, Oh, please. Please, please stop asking me to be the leader of the free world! If you can please just stop! I mean, what kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say please stop? It's extraordinarily flattering. But by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me. And so, that's what I've said all along, is that I know, without ever having met President Reagan, is that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment to lead our country. And so many answer to you is just this: I thank you for what you're saying. And I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it, and feeling it too. And please don't ever think for a second that I think I'm important enough in this world that what you're saying is a problem for me.
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This isn't an easy question to answer diplomatically, but what did Christie actually say?

1) I'm touched by the question and all the applause it generated.
2) It's not a burden to be asked; it's flattering!
3) Eh, I don't feel it in my gut yet, but I do listen when people beg me to run.

And it only took a few minutes of word salad to get there! Clearly, this is an orator without parallel.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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