In a closely watched appearance at the Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave his "least direct answer" to date when asked whether he intended to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Christie has said repeatedly that he won't be a candidate, but with many Republicans still not sold on Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, or any other declared candidate, the Draft Christie movement continues to gain steam. Why are so many Republicans yearning for more 2012 choices? Here, four theories:
1. This is a remarkably weak GOP field
"This incessant scuttlebutt is a reminder of just how weak the Republicans' 2012 field really is," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. As it stands, GOP voters will have to "choose between the unlikable flip-flopper, the dimwitted governor, the wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, the disgraced former Speaker, the guy who ran a pizza company, the radical libertarian, and the former Obama administration official." No wonder they're getting panicky and dreaming of a savior.
2. Conservatives crave purity that does not exist
The Right imagines Christie to be "a potential white-knight candidate," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, because the previous white knight, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, turned out to have a record — on immigration, for example — that conservatives find troubling. But conservatives would find fault with Christie, too — he has argued for state-wide gun control, and said it's "time to defer to the experts" on climate change. Politics involves "horsetrading," so the base wouldn't find the purity it seeks in any candidate.
3. Republicans still think they can find another Reagan
Ronald Reagan was "Mr. Conservative," says John LeBoutillier at Fox News, a "successful conservative president who had it all: He was attractive, great on TV, a natural leader, and he united the country." The Right has been desperately hunting for "another Reagan" ever since he left the stage. George W. Bush? Fred Thompson? Perry, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump? None of them measure up, and conservatives simply don't realize, or can't accept, that Reagan "was a once-in-a-lifetime political candidate."
4. The problem is boredom
The last game-changing event in the GOP primary campaign was "Perry's final decision to get all the way in, and that was six weeks ago," says Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post. Now everybody's staring at another four or five months of speculating "over and over that the winner will either be Perry or Romney." Facing such an ordeal, who wouldn't "fan the flames of any rumors out there," hoping for a fresh diversion like the "Donald Trump or Michele Bachmann surges over the spring and summer."