“With those close to the governor saying he was ‘reconsidering’ whether to mount a bid, Mr. Christie’s unwillingness to address his political future at such a high-profile event left some Republicans exasperated and worried that a protracted game of ‘will-he, won’t-he’ would be bad for the party’s chances of retaking the White House…
“‘He hasn’t changed his mind,’ [a Republican close to Christie] said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity. ‘But the window to change his mind is not closed today.’ Asked when that window would close, he said, ‘probably a couple of weeks,’ given filing deadlines to qualify for the ballot and other logistical complications of starting a national campaign.
“Like others close to Mr. Christie, the Republican associate said that the intensifying phone calls — and the high-caliber political and financial stature of those making the calls — had not failed to make an impression. Some, he said, had asked, ‘How can I get in on the ground floor?’ (Answer, according to the associate: ‘There is no ground floor.’)”
“The Assault on Assault Weapons
During a 1995 GOP primary for a general-assembly seat, Christie — albeit as part of a ticket — distributed campaign flyers calling his opponents’ support for repeal of the federal assault-weapons ban ‘radical’ and ‘crazy.’ To this day, Christie opposes any effort to pass concealed carry in the state, and although he opposed a bill signed by his Democratic predecessor that limited New Jerseyans to one handgun purchase a month, his attorney general, Paula Dow, actively defended the law in court. Christie told Sean Hannity that New Jersey has a ‘handgun problem’ and that he supports ‘commonsense laws that will allow people to protect themselves’ while also protecting police officers.
“Sharia and ‘the Crazies’
When some conservatives raised questions about Christie’s judicial appointment of Sohail Mohammed — an attorney who had spoken out against the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and Sami al-Arian, both of which would later be convicted for materially supporting jihadists — Christie called the criticisms “crap” and said he was ‘tired of dealing with the crazies.’ While U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Christie also reportedly visited the Passaic mosque of imam Mohammed Qatanani, a Sohail Mohammed client who was later deported for lying to immigration authorities about his 1993 arrest by Israeli police (and his confession to having been a member of Hamas).
“‘Illegal Immigration Is Not a Crime’
Christie stepped in it in 2008, when as a U.S. attorney and prospective gubernatorial candidate he told a largely Latino town-hall meeting that ‘being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.’ Christie explained that being in the country illegally is merely an ‘administrative’ matter for federal border-enforcement officers, and only becomes a crime if a person re-enters the country after having been deported. While Christie was technically correct on the law — unlawful presence in the U.S. is merely grounds for deportation and not subject to felony penalties — he left out that undocumented entry to the U.S. is treated as a criminal matter. Moreover, his statements are likely to be seen by the GOP base as pandering, and put him in the same hot water in which Rick Perry has recently found himself. Christie also went on record saying state-based immigration-enforcement laws like Arizona’s are not the right approach. ‘This is a federal problem, it’s gotta have a federal fix,’ said Christie. ‘I’m not really comfortable with state law enforcement having a big role.'”
“Does he know the issues? There are back-to-back debates scheduled in Hanover, New Hampshire, on October 11 and in Las Vegas one week later. There is not enough time to get up to speed on foreign policy (What will Christie say about those Pakistani nuclear weapons, or the next tricky, obscure question?), international trade, Medicare and other non-state-specific issues, let alone opposition research so he can rebut a Romney or Perry attack. Debate preparation is time-intensive — and that means time he’s not raising money, returning calls, or hitting the campaign trail. Or will he not show up at the first debate, or two, risking the wrath of the press, which will quickly turn on him, accusing him of not being ready for prime time?
“One False Step: Every candidate makes mistakes, but the earlier they’re made, the easier it is for a candidate to recover and learn from them, and the more forgiving is the press, which doesn’t pay as much attention to early gaffes. (Except for their treatment of Michele Bachmann, but that’s another story.) There is no time left for Christie to learn. Everything he does will be magnified by the media, turning small stumbles into giant falls. Just as they’re hyping his candidacy now, the press will overhype his (inevitable) mistakes the moment he declares. By waiting this late, Christie will be performing without a safety net — and it’s a long way down….
“He didn’t return my call: In the aftermath of an announcement, he’ll get flooded with calls from important people who want to talk to him and his not-yet-existent campaign staff. That’s the good news — he has supporters. But when no one returns their calls, because there is no organization and no time, it won’t take long for grumbling to begin. Same thing with the press. Hundreds of reporters will expect their calls and e-mails to be returned every day. When it doesn’t happen, they’ll write how poorly organized he is.”
“‘The minute he gets in this thing, he’ll turn from darling of the conservative movement to target of a nitpick du jour,’ predicted Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist.”