My friend Bruce Johnson wrote in November, 2013: “Chris Christie could win the Republican nomination…Christie can DO what Obama talked about and restore bipartisanship to DC.
“Christie is a pro-life fiscal conservative who believes government can make people’s lives better. He wants to make it efficient and fiscally sound. He opposes public sector unions as drains on the taxpayers. I agree. Public sector unionized employees are overpaid compared to their private sector peers and their productivity is lower.
“Christie believes capital gains taxes should be cut. I agree. They discourage investment. They impose a harsh penalty on those of us who sometimes have to sell stock to pay for, say, our childrens’ educations or a financial emergency.
“This does not mean that he’s blindly anti-tax. He actually raised taxes in New Jersey. He worked with Obama to rebuild his state and praised Obama on the eve of the election for his role. Hispanics love him and he is popular with African-Americans…
“He would have to be an improvement in foreign policy over Obama who is becoming a huge national embarrassment with his spying on allies, drone strikes on civilians (unintentional I’m sure) and Orwellian surveillance programs. Not to mention his flip-flops on Syria.
“Governor Christie, like Governor Bush of Texas, has achieved his overwhelmingly popular programs to make the Garden State a better place to live with the backing of a state legislature, both of whose houses are controlled by Democratic majorities…
“As President, Christie will initiate reforms with bipartisan support and trim the cost of government and might actually restore people’s faith in Washington and in Government.”
My Response: Christie Or Kasich Will Have a Hard Time Winning Nomination or Avoiding Third Party Challenge
I do agree that Chris Christie represents the Republicans’ best hope of taking the White House in 2016. Ohio Governor John Kasich is also a moderate Republican who could perhaps mount a formidable campaign in 2016 as well.
Christie and Kasich will have a big challenge winning the Republican nomination. They are pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration reform, pro-gun control, they trust the majority of climate scientists on global warming. New Jersey and Ohio adopted both Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.
On foreign policy, there is no consensus within the GOP, divided between neo-cons who want to bomb Iran and Syria, and isolationists who want the US to withdraw from the world. Christie and Kasich seem likely to side, as did Bush and Obama, with the intelligence community on spying, and drone strikes.
On Syria, btw, Obama’s “flip flop,” or flexibility, has led to a ban on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government without the threatened bombing by the US. Would Bush or Christie and Kasich be so flexible as to let Russia take a lead role in negotiating this?
The base of the Republican Party is anti-gay marriage, anti-immigration reform, anti-science on climate change, and hates both Obamacare and Medicare expansion with a passion. The GOP base is also Southern and Tea Party, unlikely to embrace Christie and Kasich.
Note that many reliably Republican voters now call themselves independents because they don’t trust the Republican compromisers in Washington. They would almost rather vote for a third party libertarian / populist than a RINO like McCain or Romney or Christie or Kasich. Their distrust is rooted in their repudiation of the policies of George W. Bush to
a) engage in grandiose big government schemes to transform the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan) that failed;
b) balloon the deficit and expand the entitlement culture — Bush greatly expanded the cost of Medicare with his pharmaceutical drug benefit;
c) bail out Wall Street and the big banks, as Bush did, practicing socialism for the rich and infringing on free market ideology.
To this populist crowd, Bush, McCain and Romney were establishment politicians conspiring with Democrats to advance entitlement culture (Romneycare/Obamacare), and immigration “reform” — letting all the riffraff from Central and South America who don’t speak English become citizens, sure signs (to this crowd) of American decline and decadence.
Culturally, the Southern base of the Republican Party distrusts the Yankee Christie who hugged Obama in the final days of the 2012 election campaign. Christie also has a tendency to shoot from the lip and show rage in public that some will find offensive. He will have trouble engendering enthusiasm in the Republican base.
The threat of a third party challenge from the right would force Christie or Kasich to make overtures or policy concessions to the Tea Party in order to keep the Republican Party together.
Principles Vs. Pragmatism
I guess the main question for the conservative base of the Republican Party and the liberal base of the Democratic Party will be whether to stand on principle and mount third/fourth party challenges if necessary, or to take a more pragmatic approach.
That may be determined by how much conservatives *like* or can stomach Christie or Kasich and how much liberals *like* or can stomach Hillary or whoever the Democratic nominee is. I suspect there would be a lot of discontent among Democrats with Hillary as nominee.
The intensity of dislike/fear/hatred for the other party’s nominee will also be a factor. And how much passion each side can generate — how much do they really want to win the presidency?