“Chris Christie’s strategy is brilliant -- it worked swimmingly for Jon Huntsman”

“The reaction’s been really good — that’s an understatement,” a Christie confidant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told RCP. “More people realize now how incredible the impact of the storm was on the state, and they respect how he handled it. Not everybody is happy about it, but people generally understand that ultimately the Electoral College wasn’t that close, and it’s not what tipped the balance.”…

The GOP operatives who are quietly paving the way for their clients’ potential campaigns have Christie’s potentially fatal weaknesses near the forefront of their minds.

“Chris Christie’s strategy is brilliant — it worked swimmingly for Jon Huntsman,” one Republican consultant said sarcastically. “Being the ‘adult’ in a Republican primary might win you accolades on ‘Morning Joe.’ It will not win you the nomination. I don’t know where his base is — certainly not in the early primary states. He’s got a Rudy Giuliani problem. Where the hell do you win?”

Antipathy toward Christie among many hard-line conservatives, particularly in the early voting states, indeed remains high. And grassroots activists have warmed to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul as the two Tea Party-backed senators have begun to make themselves familiar to power brokers in the nation’s capital and to key activists in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.