The parallels aren’t exact, but there are some striking similarities between Christie’s position now and Clinton’s back in 1991.
The race for the ’12 GOP nomination has been slow-starting; there are still no announced candidates. And the prospective field is most notable for the lack of enthusiasm it’s generating from the Republican base. There’s an obvious opening for Christie, who has attained virtual rock star status on the right. And like Clinton in ’91, he has (some) time and can afford to be coy. In fact, it’s working out just fine: In the recent CPAC straw poll, Christie — who was nowhere near the conference — finished with 6 percent, better than half of the Republicans who are actively positioning themselves to run.
Granted, Clinton had far more experience as a governor than Christie does now. After 12 years in office, he had reached the point where he had nothing to lose by running for the White House. Christie’s not there yet. But let’s see what happens after he delivers a few more speeches like this week’s.
Maybe, just maybe, sometime in June or July he’ll look at the rest of his party’s field and reach the same conclusion Bill Clinton did 20 years ago:
Hey, I can beat these guys.