All of this talk about Gov. Chris Christie misses the point — and the point isn’t what he weighs, how much he won by in New Jersey, how cooperative he was, or how mean he can be. The point is that he can’t win. The last three Republicans to win national office have done so on a “nicer than the other guy” character platform that has created the modern entanglement that we consider a Compassionate Conservative. Ronald Reagan was folksy, a silver-screen cowboy with a sharp wit; George H. W. Bush, even in his first run, appeared kindly and competent; George W. Bush ran on the written-about “would you have a beer with him?” platform of good times in bygone days.
Would you have a beer with Chris Christie?
For much of the middle of the country — and for their majorities that bleed and vote red every year — the answer seems like an obvious no. Christie has a resume that reads like the greatest hits of the Midwestern inferiority complex soundtrack. Governor of a tiny East Coast state? Check. Accent like something off of television? Check. Blunt? Yup. Well-versed in urban politics? Uh-uh. Outsized personality from a teeny-tiny spec on the map? And on and on.
Of course there’s going to be work done to blunt these effects. Christie’s new chairmanship of the Republican Governor’s Association will help. He may not be a friendly face, but he can be a familiar one in many of the on-the-border reddish rust-belt states. Maybe his
Look, Mitt Romney collected the usual run of red states because that’s what red states do. However, I think it goes beyond the evidence to say that Romney earned their enthusiastic support. Throwing an East Coast governor at the middle states again is going to cause some dissent in the ranks — maybe enough to get a noisy Rand Paul candidacy noticed at the Iowa State Fair.
So far, it’s hard to picture Christie in comfortable campaign mode in the warm western states. The first time he puts on a pair of cowboy boots or gets snuck into a sweaty high school gym and propped up in front of carefully selected folks in overalls, he’s going to look every bit like the Garden State candidate.
I say this knowing full well that the Democrats’ best chance candidate has exactly the same problems — but no one expects Hillary to win Kansas.
Photo Credit: Beer by HeadCRasher on Flickr via CC By-NC-SA)