“The Best Thing Going For The GOP”

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Press Conference

That’s what Ambers calls Chris Christie:

There is nothing he has done — not one thing — that would render him unacceptable to a majority of the 2016 electorate. (Yes, he’s against gay marriage. He’s made it clear, by his actions Monday, that he is not prepared to litigate the issue nationwide, that he understands his personal views are on the wrong side of history, and that he will not expend political capital on an ideological crusade in order to please the Republican base.) If the GOP primary sorts out into a Ted Cruz/Rand Paul revanchist wing and a common sense governing conservative wing, Christie can probably make it through the gauntlet of the GOP nomination contest. And about his size: it still marks him as a regular guy, and his surgery to reduce it is probably enough to satisfy any lingering concerns about his hardiness.

I agree. What makes Christie so potent a figure is his relative moderation compared with the GOP’s current fire-breathers and his Jacksonian, bullying persona. The latter is critical to winning over the South, which might otherwise be repelled by an urban Northeastern pragmatist. The Jacksonian wing of the GOP – think Zell Miller or Dick Cheney – loves a fighter, cheers a brawler, and would swallow whatever disagreements they have with Christie on social issues because of his attitude. And they would love that attitude delivered to the door of Hillary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee. The real danger of that match-up, of course, would be the gender gap. One flash of the bullying, condescending alpha male in a debate – and I mean something much more inflammatory than “you’re likable enough” – and women voters could recoil, especially if he’s up against the first female candidate for president.

But his response to the shutdown and default crisis was pitch-perfect:

All you need to do is look about 200 miles south of here to see the mess that Republicans and Democrats have made of our national government and we should haul all their rear-ends to Camden today to see how bipartisanship works and government works together.

Weigel analyzes Christie’s decision to withdraw his appeal to New Jersey’s marriage equality ruling:

If marriage was hurting Christie, it wasn’t showing up in public polls. But anything that hurt his margin, and by extension his potential coattails for Republicans in legislative races, was more damaging to Christie’s future than a cave on gay marriage. The Republican primary votes who’ll meet the governor in 2015 will already assume he’s more moderate than they are.

Allahpundit thinks along the same lines:

Electability is, after all, 95 percent of Christie’s argument for the GOP nomination three years from now. It’s not enough to win reelection, which is a lock; he wants to run up the score to show national Republicans that he’s the only guy in the field who can make Hillary worry. Christie’s dream scenario (which he’d never admit to, of course) is that he wins by 25 points in Jersey while true conservative Ken Cuccinelli ends up getting blown out in purplish Virginia. That one-two punch will give a lot of conservatives who dislike Christie pause in ruling him out categorically for 2016.

(Photo: By Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)