Worth watching even though we all understand there’s nothing he could say to a conservative audience at this point to put himself back in play. One reason it’s worth watching is just because so many others have already watched it. This clip has, no joke, more than four million views on Facebook thanks to HuffPo’s reach. That’s rare air for any political video and really rare air for a candidate in a presidential primary. I’m not saying it’ll change his polling, but some voters who hadn’t thought about him before might start paying attention to him at the next debate after seeing this.
Jonah Goldberg thinks so too:
I’ve been saying for a long time … that Chris Christie has a much better shot at winning the nomination than the conventional wisdom suggests. That’s not to say he’s got a good shot. But there’s a clear path for him. Christie is following the McCain strategy and is simply setting up shop in New Hampshire. His gifts as a candidate are almost perfectly suited for New Hampshire town halls. If he wins in New Hampshire, there’s plenty of precedent that he could go all the way after that.
On Morning Joe just now they ran this video from the Huffington Post showing Christie talking about drug addiction and treatment. Whatever you think of the issues involved, you can see how this would leave a lasting impression, particularly in a state struggling with a major heroin problem. It’s also a good example of why I think he’s got a shot.
I don’t think he has a path to the nomination for the simple reason that he can’t out-talk or out-raise Rubio, but I can see him finishing top three in New Hampshire if/when Jeb fades and some of the moderates backing Trump grow disaffected for whatever reason. If Christie’s reputation as a RINO wasn’t so entrenched, he might even be able to pull some center-right votes from Rubio by hitting him hard on immigration. Oh well.
The other reason to watch is for the performance. Ed tells me Christie told this same story at the Red State Gathering this year and that you could have heard a pin drop while he was rolling through it. The personal details create intimacy with the audience, and Christie’s matter-of-fact style lends itself naturally to that intimacy. No one else in the field talks to a crowd like this. Cruz is good, but you’re always somehow aware when he’s speaking of the fact that it’s a performance. (Always.) It’s a smart way for Christie to sand down some of the rough edges of his drug policy, which involves preserving the taboo against marijuana at a moment when the public is drifting towards legalization. He’s not being heartless, he’d tell you; it’s just that he’s seen firsthand what addiction can do. And his law-and-order pitch doesn’t involve tossing junkies into a federal pen to rot. For years now, he’s been pushing treatment as an alternative to jail. And he’s doing it all in the context of touting his pro-life credentials. At his best, the guy’s pretty good. Not good enough to win, but hey.