Should conservatives be clamoring for a Christie candidacy?

posted at 10:05 am on September 27, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Tonight, Chris Christie will take the podium at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and give a speech on leadership, an event that some Republicans hope will turn into the launch of a bid for the GOP presidential nomination.  With Rick Perry taking a beating from the Right and Mitt Romney gamely holding onto his co-frontrunner status, some conservatives see Christie as a potential white-knight candidate.  New York Magazine’s Dan Amira takes a look at Christie’s record — and wonders whether Christie would solve any of the problems in the race, or compound them:

Did you hear the news? Chris Christie is going to save the Republicans from Rick Perry, who was supposed to save them from Mitt Romney but turned out to be a completely inept debater and a traitor on issues like illegal immigration and injecting little girls with mental retardation. Now, granted, Christie has said a hundred times that he isn’t ready to run for president and won’t do it. He’s even threatened to kill himself to show how serious he is. But with Perry proving himself less than ideal, the never-satisfied GOP elite is once again pining for a conservative savior who can unite the party (or at least the anti-Romney faction of the party) and defeat President Obama. According to various reports, Christie is telling donors that, public refusals notwithstanding, he’s open to reconsidering.

But if conservatives think Christie is the answer to their every prayer, they may be making the same mistake they made with Perry — allowing themselves to become enamored with the idea of Christie, while overlooking who he actually is. Conservatives know the New Jersey governor is a straight-talker who slashes budgets and takes on the public unions and yells at people on YouTube. Which is all great, obviously. But on some issues, Republican primary voters would be in for a rude awakening.

Interestingly, the list of issues looks a lot like the same issues on which conservatives are hammering Perry.  For instance, on immigration, Christie has insisted that the US has to come up with “a clear path to citizenship.”  As Amira notes, we already have a clear path to citizenship for legal immigrants, so this sounds more like an amnesty approach — a conservative heresy that Perry hasn’t committed.  Christie has also called illegal immigration an “administrative manner” rather than a crime, and proved it as a US Attorney with an unusually thin record of prosecutions in this area, which made Lou Dobbs lament Christie’s record as “an utter embarrassment.”

How about gun rights, another bedrock conservative principle?  Even Democrats don’t argue for gun control any longer, but Christie made the case for gun control at the state level — and on Sean Hannity’s show, no less, in October 2009.  Perry has come out adamantly against changing energy policy to accommodate “climate change,” while Christie says he believes that humans are changing the climate and says “it’s time to defer to the experts.”  Rick Perry and Mitt Romney traded jabs over Romney’s arguable support for Race to the Top, but Christie called Obama “a great ally” in education and applied to join the Race to the Top program.

So what would happen if Christie jumped into the race?  Well, the debates would certainly get more entertaining.  All of those who have launched attacks on Perry would have a new front open to them.  Christie’s position would inevitably make Perry and Romney look more conservative by comparison.

In truth, governing means having to do a significant amount of horse trading in order to win on overall goals and directions.  Christie would be no different than Perry or Romney in having to defend his record — except that his record seems to be even more divergent from the two front runners, and more problematic for a base that seems dissatisfied with them over arguably smaller heterodoxies.  Christie is smart enough to know this, and I suspect that the only news we’ll hear from tonight’s speech on leadership is that Christie intends to apply those principles exclusively in the Garden State for the foreseeable future.

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Maybe I’m just a little depressed, but the GOP field is looking worse to me than 2008.

neuquenguy on September 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Stay in Jersey Christie, no wait, get in the race that way we can expose what you really stand for, that way while Perry, and Romney are at him, Cain can run away with it.

jaboba on September 27, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Christie can’t win the south with that 2nd amendment problem he has.

I just don’t get this: the GOP will control the House, does anyone really think gun laws are going to be touched by any Republican president? We need someone with the courage to tackle entitlements and explain what we’re doing and why. If that’s Christie, fine, if it’s Palin, fine.

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM

I just don’t get this: the GOP will control the House, does anyone really think gun laws are going to be touched by any Republican president? We need someone with the courage to tackle entitlements and explain what we’re doing and why. If that’s Christie, fine, if it’s Palin, fine.

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Bush supported the AWB renewal, as did Christie.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Let Christie jump in, then Palin also.

Christie splits the moderate vote, Palin steals some of Perry’s, and either Palin or Cain get nominated…

I could handle that…

OnlyOrange on September 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Should conservatives be clamoring for a Christie candidacy?

NO.

landlines on September 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Bush supported the AWB renewal, as did Christie.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:09 PM

And did it get anywhere?

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM

And did it get anywhere?

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Why does it matter? Support is support.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Short answer is no.

Mirimichi on September 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Why does it matter? Support is support.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Because it shows that the president can’t do anything on the issue, which means it’s not really an issue. With everything facing the country right now, not supporting a guy who’s good on the crises facing the country because of something he can’t do, and almost certainly wouldn’t try to do as POTUS anyway, doesn’t make sense.

Gun law is going to be literally at the bottom of the list for any Republican candidate (and Obama too).

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Because it shows that the president can’t do anything on the issue, which means it’s not really an issue. With everything facing the country right now, not supporting a guy who’s good on the crises facing the country because of something he can’t do, and almost certainly wouldn’t try to do as POTUS anyway, doesn’t make sense.

Gun law is going to be literally at the bottom of the list for any Republican candidate (and Obama too).

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Oh yeah. Fast and Furious is just demonstrating how far down the list gun issues are for this administration.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Gun law is going to be literally at the bottom of the list for any Republican candidate (and Obama too).

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM

That cuts both ways.

A GOP President gun grabber will NOT take steps to IMPROVE our gun rights, either. As it stands, there are over 20,000 gun laws on the books, and thousands of Americans are in PRISON for PAPERWORK VIOLATIONS of these gun laws.

fossten on September 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Oh yeah. Fast and Furious is just demonstrating how far down the list gun issues are for this administration.

MadisonConservative on September 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Fine, Obama has an obsession with guns and had to break the law to try and regulate them, and it didn’t work. That’s what the antigun liberal did because that was the only thing he could do.

That proves my point. Obama had a filibuster proof majority and still had to break the law to try and pass gun legislation. You really think a GOP candidate, any single one, is going to try anything on guns?

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Q. Should conservatives be clamoring for a Christie candidacy?

A. No.

J.E. Dyer on September 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

NO!

MCGIRV on September 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

I like Chris Christie, but I think he should stay in New Jersey. We need strong GOP Governors in the North East, we don’t need yet more people in this already crowded field in my view. I don’t think he even wants to do it frankly and he wont, I think Palin is the last real possibility as far as someone entering the race.

nswider on September 27, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Seriously-why all the hatred of fat men.
My husband is 5’4 and 240.
Don’t knock it-’til you’ve tried it.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 27, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Girl, that was funny. Sweet, too. He’s a lucky man.

bloggless on September 27, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Girl, that was funny. Sweet, too. He’s a lucky man.

bloggless on September 27, 2011 at 2:39 PM

To remain married to me-he must be a saintly man. LoL

annoyinglittletwerp on September 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Good heck people! It’s going to be all right.

Romney will be fine.

He’s made his specific conservative promises and we’ll hold him to it. Perry will probably be fine as well, just make him be very specific and promise he won’t go soft on illegal immigration, (which he has NOT yet promised) and let’s vet him a little more to make sure he’s not a dummy. I think Romney will be able to win against Obama better, and is more presidential in general, but either person would be a better president than Obama and I will vote for them.

scotash on September 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

I just don’t get this: the GOP will control the House, does anyone really think gun laws are going to be touched by any Republican president? We need someone with the courage to tackle entitlements and explain what we’re doing and why. If that’s Christie, fine, if it’s Palin, fine.

cpaulus on September 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM

to a large extent I agree with you. I would have no problem electing a socially liberal / fiscal conservative with Christie’s proven ability to fight with the understanding that he leave the status quo on social issues (and gun rights – not sure where that falls, not really a “social issue” but not a fiscal issue either).

However, the problem is that the vast majority of voters (even primary voters) don’t follow politics closely, don’t really understand how the system works and therefore don’t, in fact, understand that b/c there is a GOP house it is unlikley for any gun control laws to get passed with a Christie presidency.

therefore, the reality is that these types of issues will sink him in a primary.

It’s the same thing when a local/state election has people campaigning on abortion. Really, until Roe v. Wade is overturned, the state’s can’t do all that much about abortion – so it should hardly be a major issue in such a campaign, but people still vote on it.

Monkeytoe on September 27, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Can someone please explain Ann Coulter’s obsession?

ladyingray on September 27, 2011 at 6:06 PM

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