What can you say about soon-to-be-former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie? At one time, it seemed his star was rising, that he was destined for the White House. That is the historical moment to which Christie apparently clings.
Christie, who leaves office—and almost certainly any political future—on January 16th, believes that if President Trump had not run in 2016, he’d be president today.
Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he believes he would “absolutely” be the president if Donald Trump had decided not to run, according to a report Sunday.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to think to yourself, ‘Wow, if this guy were not in the race, we’d win this thing,’” Christie told NJ.com, describing internal polling by his campaign. “And I absolutely believe if Trump had not gotten into the race, I think we would have won.”
There is no reason to believe that Christie would have won the GOP primary, let alone the White House in 2016.
By that point, Christie had made two “unforgivable” missteps that made him toxic to Republican voters.
The first, of course, was his well-publicized “hug” with Obama following Hurricane Sandy; his subsequent gushing and fawning over Obama didn’t help. At the time, the right was just as avidly opposed to Obama as the left is to Trump now.
Christie capped off the “hug” (that wasn’t a hug) moment by gushing about Obama.
The optics of the supposed “hug” and the gushing were anathema to Republican voters who saw this not only as a betrayal but as a slap in the face. Christie tried to salvage the situation in a town hall meeting.
But Christie was facing other problems with the Republican base. He was too centrist, too supportive of radical Islam, and too dismissive of our legitimate concerns regarding immigration, Common Core, and ObamaCare.
The final nail in his political coffin, however, was Bridgegate. The allegation was that Christie’s team shut down access to the George Washington bridge to cause problems for a mayor who had not supported him. Corruption, pettiness, abuse of government power, and ultimately sitting silent while his allies and aides, including top aide Bridget Anne Kelly, were sentenced to prison for their role in the politically-motivated shutdown all weighed against Christie for those still willing to support him after the Hurricane Sandy debacle.
Christie himself, as he faces his final days as governor, noted that Bridgegate hurt him.
Christie, who leaves office on Jan. 16 to make way for Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, also conceded that his standing as governor and presidential candidate was damaged by the “gate” scandals – Bridgegate and Beachgate.
“What Bridgegate did was deprive me of the benefit of the doubt – that’s all. That’s a big thing. But that’s what it did,” he said of the outrage created when two of his associates closed down two lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
What Bridgegate actually did was show him to be a petty, corrupt coward inflated by and instilled with a sense of his absolute power in New Jersey. It was not a pretty picture, and many of his supporters who stood by him during Huggate, stepped away for good at this point.
The left likes to hammer Beachgate, but Christie lolling on a beach during a government shutdown was a yawn for the right. We already had his number, and any time the government shuts down is just fine with us.
Ultimately, though, the numbers tell the story of Christie’s 2016 prospects. We already knew he would not find support among any Republican base.
He turned off moderates with things like Bridgegate and his abrasive manner; he turned off conservatives with his big-government, big-spending ideas and with his dismissal of legitimate concerns about radical Islamists in America; he turned off the establishment for all of the above. In short, by 2016, Christie was done.
This played out in the GOP primaries. He lost Iowa, and came in 6th in New Hampshire. The latter was the end for Christie because as a blue state GOP governor and in hopes of taking an early primary, his campaign had spent the most time and money there. To come in at 7.4% of the popular vote was a humiliation: By comparison, Tump won New Hampshire with 35.2% and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) came in second with 11.6% of the vote.
Following this result, Christie bowed out of the 2016 presidential primary in February of 2016. His insistence that he’d be president if Trump hadn’t been a contender is ludicrous. At best.
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