Christie even borrowed Democratic rhetoric in explaining his Medicaid decision. He said he was “putting people first” – a line that was a Bill Clinton trademark and the title of his campaign book.

In fact, Christie could do worse than aspire to the role that Clinton played for Democrats in 1992. The young Arkansas governor was perceived as the solution to a problem that had dogged Democrats for 20 years by then. Before the primary that year in New Hampshire, one liberal Democrat after another told me that their hearts belonged to Tom Harkin or Bob Kerrey or Jerry Brown, but they were going to vote for Clinton. They were tired of losing with stereotypical liberals who were easily caricatured as soft on crime and defense, and they saw the Southern moderate as a game-changer.