The Agenda

John Cassidy on Chris Christie

John Cassidy of The New Yorker has a post on the obstacles Chris Christie will face if he pursues the Republican presidential nomination in 2016:

As a union-basher, a would-be tax cutter, a supporter of capital punishment, an opponent of abortion, and someone who vetoed a bill legalizing gay marriage, he might seem like a natural candidate of the right. But that is only part of the story. An East Coast politician who embraced President Obama, appointed an openly gay judge to Jersey’s Supreme Court, and has adopted a tolerant approach to illegal immigrants, he might not be conservative enough for small-town and rural Republicans—the type of folks who supported Rick Santorum.

By temperament and inclination, Christie probably sees himself as mainstream G.O.P. pol. But in running in the 2016 primaries as a centrist—or what passes for a centrist in today’s Republican Party—he is likely to face strong opposition from the likes of Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal, both of whom have been making noise about the need for the G.O.P. to be more inclusive. Christie, with his bluster and his regular-guy persona, might well be able to defeat them, but it would take a wholehearted and 24-7 effort.

Cassidy neglects another potential barrier, which is that while Christie’s blustery persona plays extremely well in the northeastern U.S., it is not obvious that it will play as well in Republican primary electorates elsewhere in the country. As a New Yorker, I find Christie’s distinctive style appealing, but northeastern urbanites represent a very small part of the GOP coalition.  

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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