Christie: Why he’s already the GOP’s 2016 front-runner

The combative and charismatic New Jersey governor cruised to re-election in a blue Northeastern state.

After this week’s election, Republican insiders agree on one thing, said Chris Cillizza in Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the GOP’s “best—and maybe only—hope to win back the White House in 2016.” With the rest of the party roiled by ideological infighting and suffering from new lows in popularity in national opinion polls, the combative, charismatic Christie cruised to re-election in a blue Northeastern state, winning 60 percent of the vote. No other candidate for the GOP nomination can boast Christie’s level of cross-party appeal, least of all the Tea Party–backed Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, his most likely rivals. The exit-poll results make an emphatic case for a Christie presidential bid, said John Avlon in Though his record is distinctly conservative, he won Hispanics by 6 percent, independents by an eye-popping 31 percent, and women by 15 percent—against a female challenger. If Christie can do half as well nationally, he could extricate the GOP from its “demographic trap” and put a Republican back in the White House.

“Hold off on the coronation for now,” said Reid Wilson in The Republican establishment may love Christie, but the conservative base dominates the primaries. To hard-right, Tea Party supporters, Christie is suspiciously moderate. This is a governor, after all, who signed a law banning gay conversion therapy, signed 10 gun-control bills into law, dropped his appeal of a court ruling legalizing gay marriage, supported free tuition for illegal immigrants, and—most unforgivably of all—publicly praised and hugged President Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy just days before the 2012 election. Christie’s bullying, Tony Soprano–like personality won’t stand up to the pressure of a national race, said Peter Keating in, and neither will his record. Despite cutting corporate taxes by $600 million a year and giving business $2 billion in tax credits, Christie has failed to revive New Jersey’s economy, with the state ranking 44th in the nation in job creation. He’s played games with the state’s budget, too, deferring pension obligations until he’s out of office, and cutting aid to schools and municipalities. Newark Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran calls Christie “America’s most overrated governor.”

In the end, though, what will matter to Republicans is that Christie shares their indignant rage, said Joel Mathis in the final days of his gubernatorial campaign, when any prudent politician would have been playing it safe, Christie got in a shouting match with a middle-school teacher who was protesting his education cuts. Jabbing his finger in her face, he bellowed, “I’m tired of you people!” To conservatives in the age of Obama, that refusal to take any guff is a badge of authenticity—proof that Christie, like them, seethes with “good old-fashioned resentment of pointy-headed liberals who think they’re smarter or better or more compassionate than you.”

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It’s worked in Democrat-heavy New Jersey, so why not in the rest of the nation? asked David Harsanyi in’s struggles with his weight, his explosions of temper, and his willingness to shout “shut up” at reporters, union members, and critics have actually endeared him to his constituents, even if they don’t always agree with him. He seems real, with no patience for the niceties of modern politics. Given the current level of public disgust with politicians, Chris Christie “might not be what conservatives want, but he may be what they need.”

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