Friday, July 3, 2015

Christie Comes Out of the Closet

If nothing else, the late conversion will win over the voters in what can only be described as a brilliant political move:

"N.J. Governor Chris Christie reportedly to enter GOP 2016 race on Tuesday" Associated Press  June 26, 2015

NEWARK — Governor Chris Christie, battered and bruised following a political scandal at home, will not be a potential front-runner when he joins a field of more than a dozen major GOP candidates.

Wow, he's a battered husband.

Instead, he is trying to emerge from a pack that includes senators, governors, and business leaders, with more expected to join in coming weeks.

‘‘I think it’s great timing,’’ said Leighton Lord, a friend of Christie since college who has been serving as his informal liaison in the early-voting state of South Carolina. ‘‘The field is still very unsettled and I think a lot of people are still looking for someone they want to support.’’

Well, I know who I like, but you can still shop around.


After the announcement, Christie is scheduled to head to New Hampshire, where he will hold a town hall meeting in Sandown on Tuesday evening.

The pre$$ left the meeting early, if you know what I mean.

The decision underscores the importance for Christie of doing well in New Hampshire, which holds the party’s first primary and has historically welcomed moderate candidates who visit often.

Christie has already spent significant time in the state in recent weeks, holding a series of well-received town hall meetings and delivering policy speeches. But he remains a tough sell for many conservatives nationally.

Ever confident in his skills as a campaigner, Christie has played up his brash persona during the weeks leading up to the launch. From New Jersey? 

That turns people off.

At the same time, Christie has stressed his ability to work with Democrats, making the case that he can expand his party’s support by appealing to the female and minority voters Republicans may need in greater numbers to win the White House.

Christie’s reputation, however, was badly damaged by the actions of several top aides who were accused of closing access to a busy bridge connecting New Jersey and New York. It was an act federal prosecutors say was designed to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Christie’s re-election in 2013. 


From the outset, Christie has denied any knowledge of his aides’ actions. The US attorney who won indictments against Christie’s former deputy chief of staff and his top appointee at the authority that controls the bridge has said he does not expect to file any additional charges in the case. 

Another former ally — who attended Livingston High School with Christie — has also pleaded guilty. The trial of the indicted aides could take months, an unwelcome distraction as Christie campaigns.

Is that what they are going to hang over him?

Christie is likely to be one of four governors in the 2016 race, joining Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who announced his candidacy this week, and expected candidates Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio. 

They will be in the mix here somewhere before I move on.

Christie has been saying for weeks that he intended to make a decision by the end of the month but wanted to wait until the state budget had been completed. The deadline for that is Tuesday.


So he comes in as an underdog, huh?

"Popularity down, Chris Christie joins GOP presidential race; State’s economic and pension woes dog N.J. governor" by Michael Barbaro New York Times  June 30, 2015

LIVINGSTON, N.J. — Governor Chris Christie declared his candidacy for president here on Tuesday in a 20-minute speech full of New Jersey-style swagger, vowing that as president, “there is one thing you will know for sure: I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.”

Christie, a two-term governor, offered himself up as a teller of difficult truths, who would never shy away from making the kind of painful choices required in the White House — even, he said, if “it makes you cringe every once in a while.”


“We must tell each other the truth about the problems we have and the difficulties of the solution,” he said inside a gymnasium here at the high school where he was once class president.

Taking swipes at his Republican rivals in the Senate, Christie said there would never be doubts about his ability to perform the job of president. And in an explicit attack against Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christie lamented President Obama’s foreign policy record.

“After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton,” Christie said.

Has he read the tea leaves?

But Christie, whose rapid rise as a Republican in his first term was matched only by his spectacular loss of stature at home in his second, enters the 2016 presidential race bearing little resemblance to the candidate he once expected to be.

Those guys don't win presidencies; the name Dukakis comes to mind. Unpopular governor at home.

The economic recovery he promised has turned into a cascade of ugly credit downgrades and anemic job growth. The state pension he vowed to fix has descended into a morass of missed payments and lawsuits. The administration he pledged would be a paragon of ethics has instead conspired to mire an entire town in traffic and the governor’s office in scandal.

Not a good resume for a presidential administration.

Just 3½ years ago, Christie seemed so popular, compelling, and formidable, such an antidote to all that ailed the Republican brand, that senior figures in the party pleaded with him to run for president as a substitute for their eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

But today, a staggering 55 percent of GOP primary voters say that they cannot envision voting for Christie, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The only candidate less palatable: Donald Trump.

Actually, he's surged to the top of the heap!

With two pillars of his presidential run — his record and his judgment — looking wobblier than ever, Christie must build a campaign around his most raw and prodigious asset: his personality.

Naaaah, no, no. Nope. Not what I'm wanting out of the campaigns or politics. 

More hot air from the web version:

Brash and big, by turns compassionate and cruel, Christie’s persona — a magnetic mix of quick-witted charm, insult-trading banter, vulnerability, empathy, and effrontery — affords him, without question, his clearest advantage in a sprawling field of Republican rivals.

It comes together in a presence that Christie has sculpted, to a degree few politicians ever have, during a remarkable run of 137 town-hall-style meetings, from the working-class bungalow communities along the Jersey Shore to the wealthy suburbs of New York City. 

Or scripted like HRC. Good day to go to the beach though.

In highly ritualized, often raucous 90-minute question-and-answer sessions, he has deployed the full range of his skills, moods, and whims. 

He has berated public school teachers in loud tirades and crossed rope lines to give consoling hugs to people in grief. He has told disarmingly personal tales about his parents, his marriage, and his weight, and denounced a young military veteran who had the temerity to challenge him, calling him “an idiot.”

“Damn, man, I’m governor, could you just shut up for a second?” Christie yelled after the veteran left the room.

That combative charisma, said Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair State University, “is not to be underestimated.”

It allowed him, in a state where the Legislature is dominated by Democrats, to overhaul New Jersey’s tenure system for public school teachers, adopt a cap on the rate of property tax growth and pass a “Dream Act” that grants in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants. 

Or you can look at it the other way: Democrats -- again -- capitulated against their stated interests. 

Look, I expect Republicans to be a$$holes, but at least they come straight at you with the knife; Democrats have been putting arms around our shoulders and telling us they are a friend as the plunge the blade in the back with the other hand (just a political mi$calculation, I know, but....).

But Christie has done little to lift New Jersey’s economy out of its doldrums: Unemployment remains higher than the national average; economic growth lags most of the country; pension deficits, which led to repeated credit downgrades, remain startlingly deep; and major portions of the state’s transportation infrastructure are in tatters

Somehow, despite the surging AmeriKan economy recovery and its proximity to that hub of wealth, New York City, the state is in $hit $hape. 

So jwho stole all the money down there?

Then there is the recent traffic scandal, which led to indictments. An aide and appointees were accused of a conspiracy in shutting several lanes of traffic approaching the George Washington Bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for his failure to endorse the governor’s re-election. Christie has denied any wrongdoing and disavowed any knowledge of the retribution scheme. 

Given the other things, that is looking like distraction. Still shows qualities unbefitting a president.

“He does not have an enviable record of governance,” said Harrison “He does not have a whole lot he can point to as successes in the policy realm. But what he does have is an ability to spin both his record and his political reality in such a masterful way that it means he remains a contender.” 

Just what we need, huh!

Christie plans to put the town hall meeting at the center of his candidacy, and center his candidacy in a state, New Hampshire, that is famed for its own town hall meetings.

Wait until he lashes out at someone (if not staged like everything else).

He is forgoing the customary tour of early-voting states that usually follows a formal announcement, aides said. Instead, Christie will plant himself in New Hampshire for a week, holding one town hall after another, starting Tuesday evening.

I'm sure they are happy to see that up there.

Such single-mindedness belies the serious and stubborn vulnerabilities of his campaign.

As a centrist candidate from the Northeast, he would have an exceedingly narrow path to the Republican presidential nomination under the best circumstances. But circumstances are anything but optimal for him: He faces a wide field of candidates, including several who are better financed and more beloved by mainstream donors (Jeb Bush), hold greater appeal to conservative voters who dominate the primary process (Scott Walker), are agile public speakers with persuasive biographies (Marco Rubio), or are better liked by Republican voters (all of the above). 

Posts coming on them before I close down the campaign coverage.

At his announcement, Christie was seeking a political rebirth, as he has before, by relying on his powers as a teller, and mythologizer, of his own story. 

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! He's a sorcerer!

I think the key word in all that is LYING!

The question for Christie, after a bruising year of watching his story rewritten by others, may be whether Republican voters, who can choose from among a long and intriguing list of fresher faces, will look past his own excesses, and give him a fighting chance to sell himself anew.

I'm sorry, did I not mention I'm sick and tired of being SOLD a CANDIDATE?


I didn't see him getting after those who rob and plunder.


Looks like Christie just stole the veterans vote from Sanders!

Also see: 

"Governor Paul LePage of Maine has been mired in political controversy. The Legislature overrode his budget veto. The speaker of the House accused him of dirty dealing involving a charter school. Some have even started talking impeachment. Which is why Wednesday’s visit from presidential candidate Chris Christie was such a welcome change. Christie made a detour from New Hampshire to receive LePage’s endorsement — touting LePage as a fellow Republican truth-teller. LePage ate it up — and used the opportunity to crow about himself, telling the assembled media: “When all of you and your colleagues around the country had me as a dead-walking governor, Chris Christie had faith.”

Related: What's New Inn Maine


"In N.H., Christie says he’s ‘Telling It Like It Is’" by James Pindell Globe Staff  July 04, 2015

SANDOWN, N.H. — Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, in the middle of a five-day presidential announcement tour in New Hampshire, travels with a campaign banner that says “Telling It Like It Is.”

But the “it” Christie talks about these days is mostly himself.

This week Christie became the 14th Republican to announce his intention to run for president in 2016. Two years ago Christie led the field, but he is in a much weakened position today.

Under his watch, New Jersey has undergone nine credit rating downgrades. The state is ranked 48th in private-sector job growth. He faces a public employee pension crisis. In addition, the so-called Bridgegate scandal, involving his once inner circle of aides, is still not over.

And when it comes to issues, Christie, a moderate, is hardly a darling of the Republican base.

As a result, in his presidential announcement launch and during five straight days of campaigning in the Granite State, Christie has treated the presidential contest like a season of “The Bachelorette”: trying to win over voters with charm and personal rapport.

Okay, that's when I wrote insulting in the margin of printed pos. 

His answers to voters’ questions are laced with “man” and “buddy” and “let me tell ya.”

I suppose that makes him cool.

When Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush released their announcement videos, they featured everyday people talking about their lives. Christie’s pitch was two minutes of the candidate talking about the moment his mother died.

Kind of a grim campaign pitch. What is shooting for, the sympathy vote?

He has repeated the story at town hall meetings in New Hampshire. He has given marital advice, revealed how often he gets a test for prostate cancer, and told a lengthy story about his daughter’s Notre Dame tuition bill.

And ipso facto he's qualified to be prezident.

“The first thing that came to mind after seeing him is that he has a strong personality,” said New Hampshire state Representative Joe Hagan, a Republican from Chester, who attended Christie’s town hall meeting in Sandown on Tuesday night.

Privately his aides note that Christie is trying, in part, to use the playbook of Republican John McCain’s win in the 2000 New Hampshire primary.

Like McCain back then, he is essentially skipping Iowa, running an underdog campaign on the cheap, and hoping his big personality will win people over at endless town hall meetings at VFW halls, schools, diners, and even bars.

Whether this approach will work is unclear.

Sarah Crawford Stewart, a key New Hampshire aide to McCain in both his 2000 and 2008 victories, said Christie faces a more complicated campaign than McCain did 16 years ago.

“Back then, McCain was the only Republican really going after independent voters who can vote in the Republican primary,” Crawford Stewart said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity in that space this year, and more Republican candidates are going to be going after that group later in the campaign than even these candidates realize.”

Still, Christie’s performance at the 138 town hall meetings he has held in New Jersey made him a prominent national politician. Christie aides believe they can recreate the magic of his YouTube town hall moments in another state.

“Christie is an excellent campaigner in small groups — he is engaging and funny, and can connect,” said David Redlawsk, who heads up the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in New Jersey.

Jodi Nelson, vice chairwoman of the Derry Republicans, said Christie is standing out by being a truth-teller.

9/11 is the litmus, and his state just across the river.

“At this point in the contest, people are just trying to get a sense of all of these candidates, and Christie is someone out trying to meet everyone,” Nelson said.

Boston College political science professor Dave Hawkins says Christie is bringing a different style of campaign than McCain did.

“Their approach to what they call ‘straight talk’ is different,” Hawkins said. “McCain used humor and tried to bring everyone together. He called for campaign finance reform and an end to pork-barrel spending as a way to demonstrate he was an honest broker against the system.”

McCain was the great truth-telling unifier? 

Putting aside his (perhaps understandable, but not now) bias against Asians, he was involved with obfuscating MIA investigations in Vietnam as well as a member of the Keating five. But his image? Honest broker, good guy.

Christie tries to earn points by going after political opponentsliberals, Democrats, and teachers’ unions, Hawkins said.

Kind like being a.... gulp.... bully?

“McCain also had an inspiring war hero biography that was central to his story,” he said. “When people think of Christie, they think of a brash New Jersey guy who yells at people.”

When Joe Piscopo did it, it was funny.

But these days Christie is doing less yelling. His style, he says, is “take or leave it.”

Okay. (I'm leaving it).

“I am going to tell you what I think. If you like it, great. And if you don’t, my goodness, there are 13 other candidates to pick from, so you will find somebody who you agree with more than you agree with me. But you need to know what you are buying,” Christie said. 

Sigh. (See above comments about being "sold" candidates)

To Jeff Pattera of Sandown, that approach puts Christie in the top tier of candidates he might support in the February presidential primary.

In modern politics, Pattera said, Christie’s personality “is refreshing.”

Translation: He is a back-up plan should Bush, Rubio, or Walker stumble.