Opinion
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Spencer Platt, Getty Images. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Spencer Platt, Getty Images.  

Why Chris Christie won’t win the presidency in 2016

Photo of Christopher Bedford
Christopher Bedford
Managing Editor

In the early, and later, days of the 2012 Republican primary, a steady stream of pundits kept a slow but steady chant of “Christie, Christie, Christie” humming along in the background, daring the popular Republican governor of a Democratic state to step up to the plate and run for national office. And though he played coy with his supporters, sending proxy messages while insisting that he was devoted to his work at home, the don of Jersey never took the final step, settling instead for a national role as a prominent Romney surrogate.

That was then, and to be honest, we liked the bombastic belligerent. He took on powerful and entrenched interests in his state, met fire with brimstone and appeared unafraid of any fight with any man. But since that day, we’ve seen a couple more press conferences, a few more temper tantrums and a lot more of Mr. Christie. Through it all, one thing has become clear: Mr. Christie will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

What the hell are we talking about?

The Garden State’s governor rose to national stardom for his successful (and viral) campaign against corrupt teachers unions in his highly-Democratic state. And he was a true trailblazer. Since then, overreaching union bosses have been successfully challenged in state after state, most recently in Michigan — the historical home of the labor movement. And while conservatives fawned over his victory and rightly admired his verbose stylings, the real object of their love was what he had done: He had brought common-sense conservative reform to a government many had written off as California Jr. years before.

Judging by Mr. Christie’s actions since his rise to fame, though, it appears that he may have mistaken the true object of conservative’s admiration for him as his confrontational tactics. Whether it was a kerfuffle with an ice cream cone, or an insult over a reporter’s question, the real governator didn’t hold back on his temper. The problem with that? Well, when one makes their pastime making enemies, sometimes they make a few too many, and that, we suspect, is just what Mr. Christie has done.

So let’s get one thing out in the open right away before we even get to winning the presidency: To run for a major party nomination, a candidate requires a serious support base that has the money, influence and drive to put their man’s name on the ballot, and then campaign for him tirelessly. Well, Mr. Christie has that, right? Wrong. Mr. Christie does not have that, and the underlying reason is that whether someone is a fiscal conservative, congressional Republican, Romney loyalist, libertarian dove, military hawk, climate change man, Second Amendment supporter or social conservative, Mr. Christie has pissed them off royally.

We’ll break it down:

Mr. Christie goes to Washington (to piss off fiscal conservatives)

Mr. Christie’s most recent temper tantrum played off of a theme the man has been rightly focused on for a few months now, and is largely characterized by his reaction to the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy hitting and taking the lives of 125 Americans, including 34 in New Jersey and 48 in New York City.

The Garden State governor expected relief, and so long as we live in a system where the federal government confiscates huge amounts of taxes to pay for huge amounts of local projects, his expectation was in line. But when the Congress considered a $60 billion relief bill, there was something amiss: As the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board pointed out, the bill contained “$150 million for Alaskan fisheries; $2 million for roof repair at the Smithsonian in Washington; and about $17 billion for liberal activists under the guise of ‘community development’ funds and so-called social service grants,” among a slew of other waste.

“Far from being must-pass legislation,” the NYC-based Journal continued, “this is a disgrace to the memory of the victims and could taint legitimate efforts to deal with future disasters.”

But if anyone thought that Mr. Christie gave a damn about the fiscal obligations the House has to taxpayers across the country, his comments following the delay of the bill dashed that hope. By not rushing ahead with billions in pork-barrel spending, the House, Mr. Christie said, had “failed that most basic test of public service.”

The following day, Mr. Christie continued, listing off all the things he expected the national taxpayers to fund, including “100 percent of the costs of the significant debris removal that we require” and significantly more than their $20 million “down payment” for the “emergency repair of our roads, bridges and tunnels,” among other things.

All this bluster puts a black mark on Mr. Christie’s reputation as a tough-talking man concerned about wasting taxpayers’ money, and though it won’t likely be forgotten by the hardcore fiscal conservatives of the party when it comes time to support a presidential candidate they can rely on, it would almost certainly be forgotten by the more squishy, but still powerful, leaders in the U.S. Congress. Unless, of course, he had used his podium to make a few more enemies. (Which he did).