In mid-August, Karl Rove stoked a flame of hope in me when he told Fox News' Sean Hannity that he sensed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was thinking of making a presidential run.
Bloomberg View Columnist Jonathan Alter also added fuel by tweeting that sources told him the governor was conducting focus groups in preparation for a possible run. This was promptly dismissed by Christie's adviser, Mike Duhaime, who said, It's completely untrue -- 100 percent that is not true. Nothing's changed.
And then Christie, playing games with my heart, said, Short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running.
Here's five reasons why Christie would get my vote in 2012:
5. He's a YouTube sensation. Today, you've just got to have it all and be it all. It's easy, though: You just have to appeal to a hip, young audience. And the way you do that is by reaching to them through their general means of sleuthing -- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. -- and Christie does that. Say what you want about his weight, but the camera loves him.
4. He's got all the things the Right cares about, minus the things that make Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann unattractive to moderates. From a purely legislative view, Christie is for small government (a winning stance.) But he has also become wildly popular among fiscal conservatives for slashing state spending to trim the budget deficit and for taking unrelentingly hard stances against unions. From an ideological view, and from a religious perspective, which, obviously, is the biggest divider between the major political parties, he is in line with his Republican base. But he doesn't lord those beliefs over everyone. He doesn't hold public prayer rallies, like Perry, and he doesn't consistently lambast the gay/lesbian community, a la Bachmann. This bodes well with moderates.
In a June interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Christie casually catered to both Republicans and moderates on one of the most hotly contested social issues of our time: gay rights.
My religion says it's a sin. But for me, I have always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think if someone is born that way it's very difficult to say then that that's a sin. I understand [the Roman Catholic Church] says that. But for me personally, I don't look upon someone who's homosexual as a sinner, he said. Christie is Catholic.
I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman. I think it's special and unique in society, and I think we can have civil unions that can help to give the same type of legal rights to same-sex couples that marriage gives them. But I just think marriage has a special connotation. And I couldn't see myself changing my mind in that. But I am in favor of making sure that homosexual couples have the same type of legal rights that heterosexual couples have.
3. He's angry? In a rather stodgy column, The Newark Star-Ledger's Kevin Manahan listed Christie's anger problem as his initial point of reason against any chance Christie may have of winning the GOP nomination and/or presidency. Now, anger isn't necessarily the adjective I would have chosen myself -- leaning, rather, to words like pugnacious, ardent, and scrappy (I could continue, but am choosing not to be obnoxious) -- but I'll run with Manahan's choice.
Manahan wrote: Americans don't want a president who governs by temper tantrums and would need SuperNanny as his chief of staff. The Oval Office doesn't have a timeout step. (OK, that was kind of funny.)
But I disagree. If Christie is angry, the American people are definitely more so. And I can't help but think that the American people would be content to see their own emotions represented in their president. That he stands beside them in it. In politics, commonalities are almost always the basis of friendships. Plus, any kind of emotion (balanced with a certain rationality, of course) is better than the seeming tepidness of the current administration.
2. He talks directly to the people and does so bluntly. Even in a blue state, Christie has proved you can have adult conversations with voters. And he does, routinely, in town halls and press conferences. Makes sense, right? After all, he is acting in their names. With Christie, one thing is for certain: Whatever he does, he owns it and answers for it. Some agree with him, and some are diametrically opposed. And when some of those people are wrong, he puts them soundly in their places.
There's a case to be made for his bluntness, too. What we want out of our politicians is the truth. Unvarnished and straightforward. We don't want to have to guess what you are thinking or where you are coming from or where you are going. We just want to be informed.
So when Christie was heavily criticized by conservatives for his decision to nominate a Muslim judge to the state Superior Court for fear the new judge would implement Sharia law, he defended his decision candidly, saying:
Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It's crazy. It's crazy. The guy's an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America. This Sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy. And I'm tired of dealing with the crazies.
1. Power. He doesn't appear to want it, which only makes him infinitely more desirable.