Thursday, September 10, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Christie In The Wings

I am going to receive a lot of negative comments from some
of my readers, as I have before, when I remind everyone that
when the current media thrall with Donald Trump and, to a
lesser extent, with Ben Carson is exhausted, one of the most
prominent Republican presidential contenders left standing
will likely be Governor Chris Christie.

Governor Christie was in Minneapolis today for a fundraiser,
and considering his current lowly status in the polls, I was
impressed by a large turnout of prominent Republicans who
felt he was still their choice for the GOP nomination.

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Mr. Christie is
finished. Just look at the polls with Donald Trump and Ben
Carson in notable double digits, and everyone else (including
Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio) in single digits.
Chris Christie is currently 10th or 11th in most GOP polls.

Some commentators are proclaiming a grass roots revolt in the
conservative party that might propel an “outsider” such as
Trump, Carson or Carly Fiorina into the nomination. I have
joined in with the observation of a “furious majority” in the
electorate this cycle, voters who are fed up with politics and
political rhetoric as usual.

But there is a huge difference between a genuine anger with
politicians, and with whom the voters will choose as their
president in 2016.

I agree that voters seem determined to reject the two major
party establishment candidates next year, but after the voter
choice in 2008 and 2012 of an obviously “amateur” outsider
with little political experience, and his subsequent failure as
president (in the view of some liberals and most conservatives),
voters are likely to be very discerning in their choices in 2016.

Mr. Christie was speaking off-the-record in Minneapolis, so
I can’t illustrate my view of his candidacy with specifics, but
I can say that he demonstrated a clear and informed mastery
of tough foreign policy and domestic policy issues. Most
importantly, he continues to communicate with compelling
effectiveness, all the more powerful because he is a sitting
governor putting his views into daily practice.

For those readers who disagree with my suggestion that Chris
Christie’s political moment lies ahead, I suggest they look
closely at his performance in the next two debates, his
campaigning in early primary and caucus states, and observe
where he stands in the presidential field at the outset of next
year when the current number of contestants will likely be
dramatically reduced.

Campaigns do matter, and what we have seen and heard so far
is a political pantomime conducted mainly in the media and in
name-recognition polls. What counts, however, is actual votes in
primaries and caucuses.

Governor Christie might not be nominated next summer, but
it won’t be because he is not the most talented political figure
in the nation. I need only point out that he survived one of the
most concentrated and brutal media attacks in memory
(sometimes known as “Bridgegate”) from those who apparently
feared his eventual electoral appeal.

On the other hand, all that natural political talent does not
guarantee political victory. When the voters begin to look
seriously and critically to their choices in 2015, Chris Christie
must do more than charm and amaze. He will have to persuade
voters of the most difficult challenge of all --- that he can be
president of the United States.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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