He called Donald Trump a loser, a child and a man who wants to be president again to settle scores, not serve the country. That was Chris Christie Monday night during a CNN Town Hall. The former governor said much the same during his campaign kickoff a week ago; this wasn’t news.
But it is – quite obviously – how Christie plans to run his presidential campaign.
One campaign premise is that Republicans want to move on from Trump.
A second – and very much related premise – is that primary voters will see Christie as the main alternative to Trump.
So far, polls show Trump far in the lead and Ron DeSantis a distant second. Christie is at 1 or 2 percent in the latest polls. Not good, but his campaign just began.
Beyond ridiculing Trump, what is Christie offering?
“I make things happen. I know how to make things happen,” he said on CNN.
He then made a very legitimate point. He got things done in a “blue state.”
Christie said that during his eight years in Trenton, he worked with Democrats to accomplish such things as pension reform, a 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases and eliminating the state’s estate tax. He did not mention that the deal to get rid of the estate tax included raising the gas tax.
Quibbles aside, his overall point was that the other contenders for the Republican nomination do not have experience dealing with the “other side.” But Christie said he does. He admitted not liking some of the people he dealt with in Trenton, but said he had no choice.
All well and good. But here’s a larger point.
Do Republicans want compromise? I know, compromise is a traditional rite of politics. Just think of all the cliches about deals cut in “smoke-filled back rooms.”
But maybe not anymore. The polarization on both sides suggests many partisans want to kill (metaphorically speaking) the other side.
Democrats think Republicans are misogynistic bigots.
Republicans think Democrats want to destroy the country.
Go ahead, find the middle ground.
At the moment, Christie only has to care about Republicans. Keep in mind that about 100 Republicans in both houses opposed the recently-passed debt ceiling deal. That’s the extremism he must confront.
And it is an extremism that is easy to see with Trump – and his cult-like followers – topping the polls.
Here’s one issue that popped up Monday night and is not going away – abortion.
Christie is pro-life but says he’s comfortable leaving the decision to the states, noting that conservatives have wanted that for 50 years.
But those 50 years are over and the way I – and others – read conservatives these days is that they want a nationwide ban on abortion, or at least as close to one as they can get.
Assuming Christie stays in the race long enough to interface with his competitors, do not be surprised if his abortion position gets attacked for not being “pro-life” enough.
We would be remiss if we do not mention the GWB.
Yes, Christie was asked about “Bridgegate.” He again said he knew nothing about it in advance, adding that the lesson he learned was to not put people in key jobs who are going to disappoint you.
As for those who suspect Christie is being less than honest about no advance knowledge, he said the feds’ probe into this caper found no wrongdoing on his part.
“You can only imagine how I was investigated by the Obama Administration.”
PHOTO CREDIT: CNN