“Ladies and gentleman, is it wrong to love another man?” asked Rush Limbaugh on his popular radio program back in February. “Because I love Chris Christie!”
Such sentiment toward New Jersey’s 55th governor is not uncommon these days among conservatives. As the first Republican in New Jersey to win a statewide election in 12 years, Christie garnered national attention last November when he beat incumbent Democrat, Jon Corzine.
But Christie was barely sworn in before rumors of a possible presidential bid in 2012 began swirling.
Many say a run from Christie makes sense. The GOP lacks a strong, central leader these days and the current supposed Republican frontrunners – Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney – all come with considerable liabilities.
Moreover, Christie is part of a new bumper crop of never-heard-of Republicans who came from nowhere and catapulted onto the national political scene. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown – all are considered fresh, new faces for the GOP.
But none of them seem to have excited conservatives as much as Christie, who has become nationally famous for facing down teachers’ unions and New Jersey’s Democratic legislature.
Things like that make Christie popular among conservatives surveying the field for 2012. “What is interesting is if he takes care of the problems in New Jersey successfully, people are going to say ‘he could be president,'” John McLaughlin, CEO of the polling and consulting firm McLaughlin and Associates, told The Daily Caller.
So what is the likelihood of a Christie bid in 2012?
According to Dr. Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, the odds are slim.
“I think it’s unlikely,” Sabato told TheDC. “It’s possible Christie could be chosen as VP, though he’s unlikely to carry New Jersey for the GOP presidential nominee unless 2012 is a Republican landslide year.”
Sabato went on to point out that it is incredibly rare for a Republican to win a top office in New Jersey to begin with. And Christie has already got his hands full with New Jersey’s mounting budget problems.
“Voters want a new governor…to tend to business at home,” said Sabato. “If he ran he would essentially have to abandon much of his state agenda and hit the road. I guarantee you his popularity in New Jersey would plummet, probably into the teens or twenties.”
Editor of RedState.com Erick Erickson said that while he thinks Christie is a good fit for New Jersey, he “honestly do[es] not think Chris Christie will run for president.”
“And I do not believe he could make it out of a primary should he change his mind,” he added.
Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, told TheDC that while Christie is “a hot property right now” it was a “stretch” to imagine Christie actually mounting a presidential campaign.
“The 2012 presidential race is going to start in about 3 months. The idea that he’s going to turn around now and start a two-year campaign is a stretch,” said Rothenberg.
McLaughlin, however, said that with such a wide open race on the Republican side, anything could happen.
“This is the most wide-open-nomination process in the history of the modern GOP,” he said. “There really are no front runners. Anyone has a shot.”
When contacted by TheDC, Christie’s office declined to comment for this story.