How do you decide on a winning strategy without debating it first? What is wrong with debating differences on policy and philosophy that people in political parties inevitably have? Don’t the voters expect to have some idea of what a party and a candidate believe before they cast their ballots — and doesn’t that imply debate? Doesn’t the phrase “political operation” risk implying that you are seeking power for power’s sake and not for any larger purpose?
There is also this: Isn’t Christie himself engaged in an important debate with Sen. Rand Paul over national security issues? There’s nothing academic about that.
One of two things is going on here: Either Christie knows he’ll need to have the debate he claims he wishes to avoid but doesn’t want to look like he is questioning fundamental conservative beliefs, or he really believes that the “I can win and the other guys can’t” argument is enough to carry him to the 2016 Republican presidential nomination he shows every sign of seeking. The latest signal came Friday when, under pressure from pro-gun activists, he vetoed a weapon ban he once advocated.
His target audience, after all, is an increasingly right-wing group of Republican primary voters who are unforgiving of ideological deviations. The last thing Christie needs is the sort of debate that casts him as a “moderate.”