The Reagan-Christie Model

"Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn't get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying – go down in flames," a well-known Republican leader once said. "If I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I'm trying to get, I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future."

What would be considered heresy in today's GOP was uttered by Ronald Reagan. As a governor in cosmopolitan California, he balanced the budget by compromising on tax increases. Rather than eliminating welfare, as was his preference, he worked with California's Democrats to overhaul it. He signed into law the nation's first no-fault divorce legislation over conservative opposition.

Even more shocking than this heresy is another: No governor in America is more like Reagan than Chris Christie. This week, the New Jersey governor will offer a desperately needed lesson in political genius to a party currently going the way of the Whigs.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at USA Today

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Analysis & Political Strategy