The big announcement is set for 11 a.m. ET. Here’s your thread to comment in case you’re watching live on cable news. Three years ago, Christie’s 2016 presidential entry would have shaped up as the biggest event of the pre-primary. Today? He’s getting lapped by Bush 8.0 and is almost certainly destined for a Huntsman-esque disappointment in New Hampshire that’ll end his campaign. But here’s the truth: The race will be more fun with him in it. And then, when it’s done, he’ll make a nice living as a lobbyist, assuming anyone on the Hill will still talk to him.
Today’s launch begins on a sour note: Christie’s biggest backer, billionaire Ken Langone, won’t be kicking in the kind of mega-bucks that the big guy may be counting on him for. More so than any other semi-serious candidate apart from Rand Paul, Christie may find himself needing to rely on a single fabulously wealthy donor to help him compete, just because he’s not as competitive anymore within the wider donor class with Jeb and Rubio and Walker gobbling up GOP money. If worse comes to worst, will Langone pour $10 or $20 or $30 million into Christie’s Super PAC? Why, no:
“Whoo-oo-oa, whoooa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Langone interrupted, when asked if he would make such a donation from his own bank account.
“Would I write a check for $10 million? No, no I wouldn’t. But I do something better than that,” Langone said. “I go out and get a lot people to write checks, and get them to get people to write checks, and hopefully result in a helluva lot more than $10 million.”…
In a super PAC-era dominated by unbridled giving, the power and influence of bundlers like Langone — and he’s seen as one of the Republican Party’s best — has diminished compared to mega-donors who single-handedly prop up candidates, as Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess did for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, respectively, in 2012.
There’s a very fair chance that Christie, formerly the darling of Wall Street Republicans, might end up being outraised in this campaign by tea-party populist Ted Cruz. Another sour note on launch day: Christie’s chief retail asset, his brash tell-it-like-it-is charisma, might not be as much of a draw to Republicans in New Hampshire now that there’s an even brasher city guy in the race. Elspeth Reeve:
I’ve argued that, despite the possibly fake nature of his campaign, Trump is actually a wonderful addition to the presidential race, because his every word is genius parody of what passes for serious political debate. Christie’s candidacy only makes that more obvious: Stephen Colbert is to Bill O’Reilly as Trump is to Christie. Christie is a northeastern blowhard convinced of his own macho toughness despite going to extreme lengths for the sake of his vanity, and Trump is that with more orange hair. In his campaign launch speech, Trump mimicked politicians who ground their political positions in some heartwarming tale of family struggle by claiming to have humble origins as a real estate heir in New York’s outer boroughs before making it to the “big leagues” in Manhattan. The conversation, per Trump’s recollection, went like this: “Dad, I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those buildings. I’ve got to do it, Dad, I’ve got to do it.” Likewise, in his campaign video, Christie says he’s blunt because his Sicilian mother taught him to be, and that on her death bed she said there were no words left unspoken between them. It is a touching story. One that Christie is rather crassly exploiting to justify screaming at people who dare question him at town halls.
They’re both selling themselves as fighters, they’re both going to try to impress GOPers by dropping “truth-bombs,” except that Trump has vastly more name recognition and is willing to say things, true or not, that Christie simply won’t. Christie will end up looking restrained by comparison, forced to talk about his executive experience instead, at which point Trump will start bellowing about his business empire. (Trump’s already outpolling him in New Hampshire.) If you don’t like Trump but you really don’t like Christie, if only because he’s a semi-serious threat from the center, you can enjoy having Trump in the race for that reason. In theory, the New Yorker will neutralize the New Jerseyan even though one’s running as a hyper-populist right-winger (giggle) and the other’s running as a centrist establishmentarian.
Maybe if he drops out early after New Hampshire and hits the trail for Jeb, he’s got a shot at Attorney General. Exit question: They may hate each other personally and they may disagree sharply on foreign policy, but Christie’s and Paul’s presidential fortunes have some surprising commonalities, huh? They both looked strong in 2013, they both pitched themselves as candidates who could, uniquely, bring centrist voters into the GOP tent, and they both have potential “maverick” appeal in New Hampshire. Two years later they’re both stuck in single digits and neither can find any moneybags donors to bankroll them.