Rick Perry's fumbles have created an opening for a strong
candidate to jump in the GOP presidential race. But Chris Christie
really, truly does not seem to want to run, at least this time.
Chris Christie for president? The fumbles and foibles of Texas
Gov. Rick Perry, no longer seen as the savior of the Republican
presidential field, have opened up a big gaping hole for a strong
candidate to jump in. And the blunt-spoken governor of New Jersey is
just the guy, in the eyes of some GOP elites. It's not too late,
they say. Really.
The only problem is that Governor Christie really, truly does not
seem to want to run, at least this time around. Yes, Republican
donors and fundraisers have been telling reporters that Christie is
reconsidering, even after he once insisted that "short of suicide,"
he doesn't know how to convince people that he's not running. These
unnamed donors are thinking wishfully, says Ross Baker, a political
scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
Certainly, though, Christie is guilty of leading us on. He takes
donors' phone calls. (Of course, maybe he just doesn't want to be
rude. After all, they could also donate to his reelection campaign
for governor, if he runs again in 2013.) He speaks out on national
issues, like the future of entitlements. On Tuesday, he's speaking
at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Last week, a pro-Christie group launched a $1.5 million TV ad
campaign in New York and Philadelphia, praising his leadership.
But listen to what Christie actually says about running for
president, not what unnamed donors say he's saying in private. In an
appearance last Thursday at New Jersey's Rider University, Christie
spoke in less-than-glowing terms about the prospect of getting up at
5:30 in the morning, on a minus-15-degree day in Des Moines, to go
shake hands at a meatpacking plant.
Running for president, Christie said, has got to be "something
that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing
to do, but I think what you must do at that time in your life, both
for you and for your country." He went on, "For me, the answer to
that was, it isn't."
When Christie says that, he sounds like he means it. His heart
isn't in it. And it's that honesty and authenticity that are his
stock in trade. If he were to turn around now and decide to run, at
this late moment, he would lose credibility.
It's also possible that Christie has learned a lesson from
watching Governor Perry belly-flop on the national stage. …