New Jersey Govenor Chris Christie today announced that he will not seek the presidency in 2012.
For Christie, this is the best move possible. By focusing on building both New Jersey's economy and his political base, Christie will increase his stock as a headline candidate in 2016.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 42% of Republicans and right-leaning Independents would like to see Christie enter the race for the Republican nomination for president.
Christie has a lot of momentum and fire behind him. He is the "it" candidate, the next best thing, the one to actually take control of the race and rally the GOP base … wait that sounds familiar, wasn’t Texas Governor Rick Perry the next best thing? Now look at his numbers. Christie has rightly taken heed from Perry’s drastic mistake by staying away from the train wreck that is the GOP presidential campaign. He is better served shelving his campaign until 2016. Jumping in hastily would only severely handicap Christie’s chances of winning, and once the initial nostalgia fades away, Christie’s record would likely come under attack, much like Perry’s.
If Christie had announced his candidacy now he would be at a significant disadvantage going into the primaries. He will not have a sufficient amount of time to fundraise and campaign in order to make a splash in Florida and New Hampshire come January. Sure, former President Bill Clinton joined the race late in 1991 but he had started exploring the possibility of running months prior to throwing his name in, he did not join seemingly on a whim. By waiting until the next election cycle, Christie will be able to build a strong national following as well as a grassroots base, much like Obama did following his riveting speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.
Though he has only been on the job for less than two years, Christie’s record has received praise from some Republicans. He has succeeded in capping property taxes, balancing the budget, and rolling back pensions, all top-notch Republican talking points. His no-nonsense rhetoric has also gained praise from the left, especially after he lambasted those who criticized his support of a Muslim judge, Sohail Mohammed, saying “It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies. It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.”
Christie’s record has a lot to love, but underneath the veil lies some ugly truths. Under his watchful eye, New Jersey’s unemployment rate has stayed above the national average, recently dropping to 9.4%. In a race focused almost primarily on jobs this is something that Christie would have to fix, and abandoning his post will not do that. Christie has supported the Bowles-Simpson plan, which calls for lowering the nation’s debt in part with increasing tax revenue by closing tax loopholes — a big no-no in the GOP.
Sure, Christie could have been a viable candidate in the 2012 election, but waiting is better. Republican voters are simply looking for the next trendy candidate, and once the initial shine wears off they will begin looking again. Jumping in the race before he is ready will only diminish future chances at making a successful bid for the White House.
Christie has correctly decided that he needs to finish what he started in New Jersey, and show that he can get people in his state back to work.
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