This isn’t the usual “Christie destroys reporter/heckler/teachers’ union shill” red meat — which is precisely what makes it intriguing. Until now, Christie clips have presented him either arguing about policy (e.g., the canceled subway tunnel into Manhattan) or confronting some bete noire of the right. This one, by contrast, is pure brand-building, reminiscing about his mother and her influence on his style of governance. What’s also intriguing is the fact that his staff has now taken to sending blast e-mails linking these vids to intrepid bloggers like yours truly, something that didn’t happen early on when Christiemania was just getting started. But why, oh why, would a man who’s insisted repeatedly that he’s not running in 2012 want to start building a brand online among national blogs?

An answer, perhaps:

What Christie is not saying—what he could never say, without wrecking his skillfully wrought image as a straight-talker whose only interest is in fixing his deeply distressed home state—is that he is working like hell to become the favorite, obvious, choice for vice president in 2012. Between the narrative he has constructed at home as the fearless enemy of budget-wrecking special interests, and the chits he has been busy racking up by raising money for Republican candidates from one end of the country to the other, he is putting himself in Position A to be recruited as a running mate…

To most Republicans, he’s a straight-talking fiscal and social conservative: a more conservative version of a Rockefeller Republican to be sure, but without the stigma of being effete or a moral relativist. To Southerners, who are turned off by northern politicians with a permissive social agenda and metrosexual patina, Christie’s pro-life stance passes the smell test…

Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said she saw the deft hand of Karl Rove at work in Christie’s carefully plotted midterm itinerary, giving speeches and collecting I.O.U.s from candidates of a like-minded political temperament, but not straying over to radioactive Tea Partiers like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware or Sharon Angle in Nevada, both of whom went down to defeat.

Geographically, he’s appealing to any Republican in the country as a potential number two — except perhaps Romney, who’d have trouble selling a Massachusetts/Jersey ticket. Politically, though, I’m not sure whom he’d best balance. Because of his fiscal-con cred, he’d be attractive to a centrist Republican who needs cover among tea party types. But because he’s made noise about a path to citizenship for illegals and endorsed Castle over O’Donnell, he might be a way of appealing to centrists who are skittish about a tea partier at the top of the ticket. Huckabee/Christie? Palin/Christie? Daniels/Christie? All theories welcome!