Despite Chris Christie, and those who sometimes speak for him, reiterating his line of not running for president, that, no means no, and he means it, that, short of suicide he won't be doing it, speculation has renewed.
The rumor mill was stirred by former Gov. Tom Kean, who, speaking to the National Review, said Christie was very seriously considering a presidential run. It's real. He's giving it a lot of thought, said Kean. I think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks ago.
Paul Gigot, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal, also put voice to similar sentiment, saying I do think that he's considering it. For all of that, I think that enough people have gone to him now and said, 'The field is weak and none of them may be able to beat the president. We think you can do it. Now is your moment!'
These words revived in me the smallest and most desperate of hopes, I confess. But I'm hesitant to get them too high, because I've never liked the word, No. And I don't want to hear Christie say it again in his plain-spoken, without-reserve fashion.
But if he'd just listen to a few reasons (there's only 10) why I think he could be the man for our times (and then change his mind and agree to what I want him to do) I would give an offering of any sort.
10. His approval rating has increased substantially. Since he signed the pension and health benefit overhaul for public workers, Christie has seen an uptick in popularity. In a Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Tuesday, 54 percent of New Jersey voters approve of his performance, while 36 disapprove; that's up from a 44 percent split in May.
9. People are asking for him. When people beg enough, and long enough, and spout off a number of reasons why they think you're what they want, you're eventually supposed to cave in, change your mind and do it. Isn't that what a politician is supposed to do in the first place? Give the people what they want? (Slight sarcasm, if it must be noted.)
8. Knowledge is power, and so is money. And Christie has some wealthy, influential, Republican-leaning donors on their knees begging him to run. There's Kenneth G. Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder, who, The Washington Post suggested, is perhaps Christie's most fervent booster, to name one. And there's Charles Schwab, of personal investment fame, expressing interest in supporting a Christie bid. There's also financier Stanley Druckenmiller and hedge fund managers David Tepper and Daniel Loeb -- a former supporter of President Barack Obama.
7. Timing is everything. And it's now. Right now. As in this very instant.
6. He's a YouTube sensation. Say what you want about his weight, but the camera loves him. And while this may be, perhaps, one of my lighter points, I still think it's a good one. Being the YouTube wonder he is indicates that he appeals to the people who most often use it: The young people. The very ones who are becoming more and more a voice in their communities. If he can reach them, through their means of attaining information and knowledge, he has to be doing something right.
5. He's got all the things conservatives/ideological right care 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's 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, clearly, is the biggest divider between the major political parties, he's 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 make headlines for his antigay/lesbian rhetoric, 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.
4. 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.
While I confess that made me chuckle - Supernanny is fantastic, p.s. -- I disagree. If Christie is angry, the American people are definitely more so. And the American people, I firmly believe, want a president that stands beside them. They want a president whose concerns are their concerns. A president whose passion mirrors their passion. A leader who's angry if the people he governs are angry. Because, in the end, we all want the same thing: A great, thriving America where people work and make money and then spend that money and live their lives however they see fit (within a limited frame of rules, course).
In politics, as in life, commonalities are almost always the basis of friendships. So I don't see how Christie's anger, again, if you're inclined to call it that, is a nick on his character or his ability to lead.
Moreover, any kind of emotion (balanced with a certain rationality, obviously) is better than the seeming tepidness of the current administration.
3. He talks directly to the people and does so bluntly. Even in a Democratic Party-oriented 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's acting, supposedly, on their behalf. What I like about Christie is that he doesn't shirk away from that. 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 they're thinking or where they're coming from or where they're 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. (Side note: In a culture so stiflingly full of political correctness, Christie's blatant disregard for it is so, so delightful.)
2. He does what he says he's going to do. During his first eight weeks in office, he cut an estimated $13 billion in planned government spending. He proposed a budget that reduces school aid by $820 million, drops 1,000 state workers, assumes $50 million in savings from privatization, and skips a $3 billion contribution to the state pension system, Newsweek's Andrew Romano outlined. He also refused to reinstate a tax on residents earning more than $400,000 a year, citing research claims that New Jersey suffered a net outflow of $70 billion in wealth between 2004 and 2008, while also proposing a 2.5 percent cap on annual property-tax increases.
I don't know about you, but I like a man of his word.
1. Power. He doesn't appear to want it, which only makes him infinitely more desirable.