Probably not a wise move for the first-term New Jersey governor, but The New York Times’ Ross Douthat makes a compelling case for Chris Christie’s entrance into the race.
Of course it would be an epic gamble on his part, since a loss would mark the end of his Garden State career. Of course Christie has obvious weaknesses: the brevity of his gubernatorial experience, the fact that he’s more moderate than his party’s base, the fact that it’s been a hundred years since America elected a president with his avoirdupois.
But the looming Romney-Perry showdown throws Christie’s strengths into sharp relief. Unlike the unloved Romney, Christie has a huge cheering section among movement conservatives, who love his combative style enough to forgive his ideological deviations. Unlike Perry, he’s campaigned and governed outside the Republican Party’s Sun Belt strongholds. Unlike both, he embodies the kind of voter who swings elections in America — not a Mormon businessman or a cowboy-booted Texan, but a Catholic with middle-class roots born one state over from the Rust Belt.
In his brief New Jersey tenure, Christie has accomplished more, against more determined opposition, amid more media scrutiny and with more resilient poll numbers than almost any Great Recession politician.
Six months ago, the best argument for a Christie campaign was that the Republican Party needed him. That wasn’t nearly enough to justify the risk. But if the country needs him? Then it might be worth considering.