We haven’t had the name of the inevitable eventual GOP nominee in the headlines here for a while, but despite a near collapse in recent polling numbers, Chris Christie doesn’t look like he plans on going quietly into that good night. There was a meeting of very high dollar GOP donors in Florida this week and many of the top name candidates were there to make their pitch, including the New Jersey governor. During his remarks, he seemed to reconfirm Scott Walker’s recent frontrunner status by playing the flip flopper card.
“We need to make sure that we make our party bigger and broader than it’s been before,” Christie told a sunset gathering of about 250 donors who have given more than $15,000—and as much as $330,000—to the GOP. “And that’s not about pandering, it’s not about flip-flopping on issues.” Walker stood a few dozen feet away mingling with the well-heeled crowd. “People want folks who they believe believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in,” Christie continued.
Everyone took that as a rather thinly veiled shot at Walker’s perceived changes in position on immigration, Common Core (which Christie also supported at one time) and subsidies. The other big claim to fame which some Midwest and northeastern candidates typically pitch to donors is their ability to win in a blue or purple state. Walker has made that claim already, but Christie seemed to engage in a one-up game on the subject.
“I’m proudly pro-life and I’ve run twice as a pro-life candidate for governor in one of the bluest states in the country.” During his 2014 re-election campaign, Walker ran an ad announcing that despite his own pro-life beliefs he supported a bill that “leaves the final decision” of an abortion “to the woman and her doctor.”
“There will be other states who will try to compete with us,” Christie said, “but I’ll just give you one statistic, we have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 42 years. It is the longest streak of any state in the country.”
While being able to win in contested territory is a definite plus, sometimes these governors seem to be taking credit for battles which were never actually fought. I can understand where Christie is coming from when he talks about the pro-life stance, but at the same time he’s in a state where the legislature was never going to try to ram through any serious abortion restrictions for him to decide on. In some ways, it actually makes a state like New Jersey safer for a GOP presidential candidate because it’s a battle he was never in a position to fight. Walker got pulled into it because Wisconsin is just generally something of a strange beast in political terms all across the board.
Christie summoned up one more curious comment during his closing which caught my attention.
Christie also called on the party to show its humorous side, saying the party needs to show voters a path toward bettering their pursuit of happiness, and not just life and liberty. “We should have some fun too,” he said.
I’m the first one to endorse a bit more fun in campaigns, but the timing was perhaps a bit unfortunate. Since Hillary already staked out the fun deficit position, we might want to leave that particular hill to the Democrats for now.