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2016 Scouting Report: Chris Christie

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Note: This is the fourth installment in a weekly series taking a look at each of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the same way a scout would break down a prospect for a pro sports franchise. For the complete list of the candidates we’ll be scouting click here

Previous 2016 Scouting Reports: Jeb BushBen Carson, and Ted Cruz.

Bio:

Born 9/06/62 (52 years-old)…University of Delaware alum, with a law degree from Seton Hall University…got his first taste of politics as a teenager volunteering for Tom Kean’s losing gubernatorial campaign in 1977…former trial lawyer…first elected office was county government in New Jersey back in 1995…appointed U.S. Attorney by former President George W. Bush and served for six years, earning a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor…defeated incumbent Democrat John Corzine for governor of New Jersey in 2009…won re-election in 2013 by 20 points, getting 60% of the vote in a state Obama won by 17 points in 2012…current chairman of the Republican Governors Association…married Mary Pat Foster in 1986, who went on to become an investment banker, and they have four children…claims he’s Catholic but disagrees with church’s teaching on moral issues like homosexuality, saying “My religion says homosexuality is a sin, but for me I don’t agree.”

Strengths:

Has won convincingly in blue-state New Jersey and oversaw the RGA in a year when many pundits did not expect GOP to gain gubernatorial seats but they did, bolstering the establishment’s “electability” argument…has earned a reputation as a larger-than-life persona in an age of wimpy Republicans, and there are plenty of clips out there of Christie taking on and dressing down his opponents…he masterfully uses that persona to provide him cover for a spotty-at-best gubernatorial record.

Weaknesses:

Despite basically being cleared of the “Bridgegate” scandal, his current 42% approval rating is his lowest since he’s been governor…as to his spotty record as governor, consider the following: the “Detroiting” of Atlantic City happening on his watch, New Jersey’s unemployment is higher than the national average, the state ranks only 44th in job creation during his tenure, the state’s credit rating has been downgraded three times since he took office, New Jersey has the most hostile-to-business tax rate in the country, family tax burdens in New Jersey have risen by 18%, and the state’s poverty rate is at a 52-year high…when vetting a presidential candidate judicial philosophy is a key factor, and Christie’s record on judicial appointments is one of the worst in recent memory for a Republican governor…for example, Christie appointed someone to the state supreme court who compared supporting the traditional definition of marriage to “segregation” and an attorney who sits on the board of a group that’s raised money for Hamas and even hosted a speaker from the terrorist organization…Christie has repeatedly urged Republicans on Capitol Hill to cave on essentially every key fight with President Obama…all of this (and more, including an “absurd” and “dangerous” assault on religious liberty according to Liberty Counsel) is why respected conservative thinker Andrew McCarthy says “Chris Christie is not one of us.”

Analysis:

Chris Christie has been a New Jersey phenomenon, because he taps into the state’s zeitgeist. He’s big, brash, and liberal. He’s the GOP’s Tony Soprano. A lovable rogue persona, but his blind ambition and weaknesses are toxic to those closest to him. Just as you usually wound up dead or divorced if you came into Tony Soprano’s orbit, Christie’s ascension provided no coat-tails for Republicans statewide. He’s a one person bandwagon, who similar to Obama is seeing his popularity wane just two years after being re-elected. Once you peel back the masculine veneer many of us crave in an age of girly-men, “there’s no there there” –especially for conservatives.

Conclusion:

Didn’t the GOP establishment just nominate a former Republican governor from a liberal blue state? How did that work out? Here’s a pretty good rule of thumb, whether you’re Al Gore or Mitt Romney – if you can’t even win your own home state you’re not going to win the presidency. Christie’s candidacy offers conservatives less-than-nothing. He’s a policy liberal, and once you remove the shadow-boxing bravado he doesn’t really fight on anything we substantively care about. Just the opposite, actually. Furthermore, he can’t win. Our base never turns out for these guys. Plus, his persona won’t play well in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida that Republicans cannot afford to lose. Especially with a woman as the likely Democrat opponent. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any path to the nomination for Christie. He’s Rudy Giuliani in 2008, minus the charm and patriotism.



 

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