Skip to comments.Chris Christie Goes National. Romney’s running mate? NJ insiders say it’s not so far-fetched.
Posted on 05/07/2012 7:15:58 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A few steps away from the Delaware River, in the marble halls of New Jerseys capitol, theres a consensus among Trenton insiders: Governor Chris Christie would gladly accept the vice-presidential nomination, should Mitt Romney offer it.
Christie is open to it, his familys comfortable with it, and hes been vetted before, one top state lawmaker says. He isnt going to campaign for it, but its no secret that he would relish the opportunity to play at that level.
The open question, however, is whether Romney will actually pick up the phone and call tapping one of the GOPs brightest rising stars to share the stage. As one Garden State operative puts it, Its like asking Joe DiMaggio if he wants to play alongside Mickey Mantle. Christie would help the team, but he may steal the spotlight.
I think Christie has enjoyed the national attention, says Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican consultant who managed President Ronald Reagans 1984 campaign. I think he would bring star quality to the ticket and he could help energize the base, but his big personality might overshadow Romney.
Sources close to Christie acknowledge that the first-term governor doesnt mind the speculation. But theyre mixed on whether he would eventually sour on staying on-message, all of the time.
This is a man who runs things, be it as United States Attorney or as governor, one Christie ally explains. Its fun to imagine him debating Vice President Biden, and then theres the reality, if hes picked, of going along with Bostons plan sticking to the script and playing a role.
Romney, a Christie aide says, calls the governor on a regular basis, and the pair have reportedly bonded during their appearances together on the campaign trail. But beyond that, the aide says, there are few veep clues.
As Romney mulls over his choice, an active push is underway by state GOP grandees to cast Christie as a forthright national leader, not just a YouTube star who spars with teachers. New Jersey Republicans rarely become national power brokers, which is one reason Christies friends want Romney to elevate him. In background conversations, many of them speak more about his pragmatism and his policy smarts than about his famous outbursts during the states budget wars.
The [vice-presidential] attention is well deserved, says Nicholas F. Brady, a former United States senator from New Jersey and secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Maybe some would be turned off by his direct approach, but I think people appreciate it. They like it when someone tells it like it is.
One of Christies mentors, former governor Tom Kean, tells National Review Online that Christie did not feel ready to run for president last summer, but with regard to the number-two spot, hes more than prepared. And with President Obama running a Chicago-style brass-knuckles campaign, Kean says, Christies tenacious personality would surely be an asset during the general election.
Kean takes care to frame Christies response to the chatter as honest and candid, not as part of some strategy or quiet campaign to win Romneys affection. He does not want to be vice president, Kean says. But he recognizes that if Governor Romney puts the pressure on, hell have to think about it hard. Thats what hes said publicly, and that is what he has told me privately.
Last week Christie stumped for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who faces a recall election next month. He boosted Walker, calling him courageous for battling Big Labor. He also touted his own accomplishments in a deep-blue state, where he has proposed various austerity measures and tax reductions.
Because of what weve done over the last two years, New Jersey now spends more time being talked about on the Sunday talk shows than the late-night talk shows, Christie said. If conservative values can work in New Jersey, conservative values can work in Wisconsin and in every other corner of America. Weve got to stand up.
Badger State conservatives, according to news reports, embraced Christie and enthusiastically discussed the upside of putting him on the Republican ticket.
Once he returned home, Christie couldnt avoid the veep fervor. When it came up at a town-hall meeting in Plainsboro, N.J., Christie reiterated his commitment to staying in Trenton. I really love this job, he said.
But Christie also had a fresh caveat: If Governor Romney called and asked me to sit down and talk to him about it, Id listen, because I think you owe the nominee of your party that level of respect, he told the crowd. He might be able to convince me; hes a convincing guy.
New Jersey Republicans applaud Christies rise but worry that if he goes to Washington, he may leave a vacuum in the state, where the Republican bench isnt very deep. A Quinnipiac poll last month showed Christies approval rating at 59 percent, his highest-ever mark while in office.
As an elected official, Id hate to see him go, because I dont think he can be easily replaced, says Vic Sordillo, a deputy mayor in Warren, N.J., and a state committeeman. Hes such an outspoken character, so I understand why there is interest. But Im not sure its time for him to leave the work hes doing here in New Jersey.
Presidential historian Alvin Felzenberg says Christies flair at using national television coverage and the web to share his gubernatorial record and leadership style will likely sustain the vice-presidential talk until Romney settles on a pick. For Christie, he says, who will face a tough reelection battle next year, its a win-win scenario.
Christie has captivated the national media, Felzenberg says, instead of simply looking to impress the New Yorkarea media, which would leave him competing with the politicians across the [Hudson] river for the cameras. He adds that Christie, unlike many northeastern Republicans, has been able to develop his own political brand, one thats not tied to a demographic or a region. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, for example, are considered vice-presidential contenders because of their popularity in their respective swing states. But Christie is popular all over. This is an important aspect of his career, one thats separate from the vice-presidential sweepstakes.
Christies advisers argue that the media attention isnt something they seek, pointing out that Christie rarely grants the kind of sit-down interviews with national outlets that stir vice-presidential rumblings. But behind the scenes, Team Christie is quietly confident that should Romney ask Christie to be on the shortlist, theyll be able to handle the ordeal, and should he be picked, to quickly adjust to the new role.
In many respects, Christie already has a national-level political presence and team in place, from his role at the Republican Governors Association, where he serves as vice chairman, to his inner circle, where senior advisers such as Mike DuHaime and Bill Palatucci provide national fundraising connections and presidential-campaign experience.
Christie has also been vetted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A decade ago, the FBI conducted an extensive background check on Christie before he became United States Attorney. This investigation is different from that done on most veep candidates, many of whom have been vetted only by Beltway attorneys and members of the press.
As the buzz increases, not every Republican in New Jersey is eager to see Christie gain more prominence. GOP pollster Rick Shaftan, who was a strategist for Steve Lonegan, Christies primary challenger, in 2009, thinks Romney would make a mistake by selecting the incumbent governor. Itd be a replay of the 1948 campaign, he says, with the GOP led to defeat by moderates.
Christie isnt a real conservative, Shaftan says. He has appointed liberal Democrats to his cabinet and he has appointed left-wingers to the state Supreme Court. Conservatives may cheer Christies teacher tangles, he says, but they wont cheer his ideological positions.
To no ones surprise, Christie confidants disagree. They say the governor is not losing the trust of the Tea Party and conservatives, even as he reaches out to moderates on education and pension reform. Most poll numbers, they point out, show his favorability among Republicans to be in the 90-plus range, and among independents and centrists, he often draws a majority.
Part of the reason for this continued success, Governor Kean says, is due to Christies broadening of his message in policy speeches at the Reagan Library and a Bush Institute event. As Kean sees it, Christie has become much more than a town-hall performer; hes a viable vice president because of his principles and how he articulates them.
If the Romney people are smart, and they are, theyll give him a major speaking role at the convention, Kean says. If its as a surrogate, thats fine, he says, but as Romneys running mate? In New Jersey, at least, the idea is gaining steam.
Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.
Oh, yeah...an ‘all northeast ticket’...that’ll work.
Looks like the GOPe really doesn’t want open rebellion.
Gov Susana Martinez for Veepee!
Aww... a RINO love fest.
Nope. Ohio, Florida, maybe Pennsylvania. Not New Jersey. There is no way the ‘Pubbies could hope to win that state so Christie is out.
Just my opinion ...and we all know what opinions are like...
How about Bob Dole?
I like the governor for a lot of reasons especially his “not putting up with stupid people”, he is however a liberal.
So if they were to run together it would be two liberals against to liberals.
It would be enjoyable to see the governor debate the vp
I would love to see him debate goofball Biden.
If Christy moved into the Naval Observatory, would DC tip over?
The only good thing would be if it helps to resurrect Norm MacDonald's career.
Like it or not, elections are won by perception. He will be attacked over his girth.
Another reason I’m thinking it will be Rick Snyder. There’s an actual chance of pulling Michigan and Rick Snyder is about as conservative as Al Gore. Perfect for Romney.
I doubt it.
Same for the lady Senator from NH who was ‘the one’ over the weekend.
Those are too regional, with Romney being from MA.
He will select someone from the south or mid west.
These stories are being pushed by the sycophants of various political entities.
Last week, Pawlenty had the inside track — supposedly. Then, Rubio.
We will continue to see this kinds of stories, promoting various individuals, until (1) Romney has the delegate count and (2) he actually names the VP candidate.
So far I think I can hold my nose and vote for Romney. But if Christie is on the ticket, I’m done. Willard best choose his vp candidate carefully. I could vote for McCain because Sarah was on the ticket. I can’t pull the lever for Romney if he puts someone more liberal on the ticket with him
Just when you think the GOP-E can’t get any dumber.