He is potentially the un-Romney of Republican presidential politics, the candidate who connects viscerally, sometimes perhaps too much so, with voters. Although he campaigned hard for Mitt Romney in 2012 and was one of the first governors to endorse him, Christie told Oprah in 2011 that Romney doesn’t connect with people. No one knows how the Republican nominating electorate of 2016 will feel about the idea of selecting a second consecutive Eastern governor from a blue state. “The presidency,” Christie says, “is the most personal vote people cast,” and he distills into two words the lesson of 2012: “Candidates matter.” …

He heartily agrees with the axiom that the most “likable” candidate usually wins presidential elections, and he understands that combativeness that might serve a governor might be inappropriate for a president, whom people want cloaked in a particular dignity, and who is in everyone’s living room every night. Christie says, “The image of me nationally is a little skewed.” What he calls his “yelling and screaming” is very limited and always tactical. He thinks even voters choosing a president “want someone who has that club in his golf bag.” …

By 2015, the Republican nominating electorate will have forgotten Christie’s effusive praise of Obama’s post-Sandy solicitousness toward New Jersey. And Christie will be the rambunctious fellow who before Sandy described Obama as “a man walking around in a dark room looking for the light switch of leadership.”