In an interview with the National Review that was posted online on Tuesday night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says that he could win the Presidency if he ran as the Republican candidate in 2012. The New York Times’ Caucus blog notes that Christie’s statements in this interview go ‘beyond anything he has said before about the talk among Republicans that he should pursue the White House.’ Christie, though, still demurs to saying that he plans to run for President next year.
From Christie’s interview with the National Review:
Believe me, I’ve been interested in politics my whole life. I see the opportunity. But I just don’t believe that’s why you run. Like I said at AEI, I have people calling me and saying to me, “Let me explain to you how you could win.” And I’m like, “You’re barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win.” That’s not the issue. The issue is not me sitting here and saying, “Geez, it might be too hard. I don’t think I can win.” I see the opportunity both at the primary level and at the general election level. I see the opportunity. But I’ve got to believe I’m ready to be president, and I don’t. …..
And remember in the context of sitting there on election night 2009, and my wife and I were convinced we were going to lose. It is a bit to get your arms around, too. You’re a successful United States attorney and then within a year of that time you have people talking about you and I was running around campaigning for folks. All of these handmade “Christie for President” signs in the crowds when I was in Michigan and Iowa and all the other places that I went, Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida. It’s also been overwhelming, too.
While, as the New York Times’ Caucus blog says, ‘many politicians avoid that kind of talk, fearing that seeming cocky does not sit well with voters,’ it seems that Christie–who, I should note as a resident of north-central New Jersey, is my governor—doesn’t hesitate to make such ‘public displays of confidence.”:
If anything, he seems to relish the attention, giving many interviews to national media, openly discussing the appeal of running, his reasons for ruling it out — at least in this cycle — and the early strengths and weaknesses of other Republicans who are contemplating challenging President Obama in 2012.
Christie notes in the interview that he’s been noting ‘how much better I get at this job every day,’ in contrast to when he first stepped into the Governor’s office last January.
So what has Christie been doing while on the job this past year?
I’m not a native Jerseyan but my husband, Jim Fisher, is. He’s a long-time observer of Jersey politics as well (he’s written a cultural history of the New York/New Jersey waterfront in the first half of the 20th century which goes into some quite detail about some earlier Jersey politicians (including Frank Hague, mayor of Jersey City for 30 years); about the longshoremen who worked on the waterfront; and about the crooked bosses and Irish American gangsters who ran their lives until a crusading priest, John M. ‘Peter’ Corridan, decided to stand up for the working men and their families.
Contemplating the activities—the antics—of our governor, Jim’s written recently about some more up-to-date Port Authority/Jersey politicking. In particular, Jim talks about how, last October, Christie, eager to trim down the the state’s budget, abruptly cancelled the already-deep-into-construction Trans-Hudson Express Arc Tunnel Project.
Earlier in 2010, Christie’s office had lost four hundred million dollars of federal support for New Jersey’s public schools due to a clerical error. This blunder led to Christie firing Bret Schundler (the former Republican mayor of Jersey City), the education commissioner he had appointed. As NJ.com reported back in October of 2010 at a hearing (at which Christie happened to make another ‘major announcement,’ his ‘decision to kill the long-awaited trans-Hudson train tunnel to Manhattan’):
As Bret Schundler told a state Senate committee the governor placed fighting with the state teachers unions and his persona on talk radio above education reform, Christie told reporters Schundler was trading in “revisionist history” and interested only in seeking “the spotlight.”
In different corners of the Statehouse, Schundler and Christie took their public shots at each other to new levels while the governor’s allies and adversaries in the state Senate engaged in a rare, open display of hostility.
If Christie does take up the suggestion on those handmade “Christie for President” signs he saw in Michigan, Iowa, Florida, and elsewhere, we may be in store for some interesting politicking, maybe even on a far larger scale than when, in the previous Presidential campaign, another not-terribly-long-in-the governor’s-seat Governor put herself under the national spotlight.
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Photo by Hoboken Condos.