Many of the 2012 Republican candidates have some kind of a pathway to a victory over Obama (at least, that’s what their advisers have convinced them). But for many of those candidates the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a narrow path with little margin for error. It’s unlikely that in the next year Obama will do any serious damage that will bring his approval rating to an irreparable level. If anything, Obama has some aces up his sleeve that could super-charge his campaign. Unemployment could drop to 7%,
law enforcement Obama might stop a terrorist attack, or maybe he’ll win another Nobel Peace Prize. In any event the MSM will always plow the field for their first love, and any marginal Obama achievement, no matter how small, will be blown out of proportion as some major accomplishment. Just as McCain’s traction in the ’08 election was lost after the financial collapse, Romney, Pawlenty, Santorum, and Gingrich would be unable to convince enough undecideds to change course midstream in the event of a press manufactured Obama “game-changer”. But Chris Christie is the one potential player in the field who could beat Obama even if Obama has luck on his side. And there are a number of reasons why.
1. PERSONALITY: There’s something to be said for shear force of personality. Be it Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu, people respond to a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense approach to problems. It’s alpha and it projects confidence. Women like that, and men think it’s cool. It’s a contrast to Obama’s innate wishy-washy, conciliatory, stuttering professor act. The contrast between the two would be readily apparent. Obama the blame everyone but himself guy. Christie the adult in the room. If anything, Obama might be forced to tone down his divisive ‘Republicans hate all that is good’ rhetoric on the campaign trail. Christie’s persona can potentially defang Obama.
2. HANDLING THE MEDIA: Like Donald Trump, Chris Christie can bypass the normal MSM filter and speak directly to voters. He has the skill to go on any of the Big-3 news networks, fit right in, and hold his own against weasly liberal interrogators pretending to be journalists.
Many of the Republican candidates go to the MSM news outlets and look uneasy. They look like high school teenagers going to their first prom, and waiting in the living room with their date’s father as he cleans his shotgun. Inevitably there’s a delay in the feed, which makes the candidate look slow. Many times GOP candidates go on these shows and they don’t know to reject the false assumptions implicit within the interrogator’s question. They do these interviews from a defensive posture and have no instinct of their own on how to handle the media. Christie, by contrast, has been flamboyant, but effective.
3. THE DEBATE: Republicans fantasize about seeing Gingrich take on Obama in a debate. The problem is Obama’s going to rig the debate format so that it best suits him, and he’s going to have his spin-doctors lower expectations beforehand and then hype his performance after the debate as if it was a masterpiece. As much as debates are about substance, they’re really about the silly stuff. Namely optics. Like Nixon in his debate with Kennedy, Gingrich would win on paper, but lose where it mattered.
Christie has communication skills Obama lacks. Christie can feel the temperature of a room, he knows what’s appropriate, and he knows when to be forceful and when to back off. Obama is always looking to come off as the cool, liberal professor with the exotic name. He still thinks half of being presidential is looking presidential, and Christie knows how to call him out. If you’re looking for a systematic undressing of Obama on live television, of all the GOP hopefuls, Christie is the only one you’d really want to see go after Obama. He would be the only one with a real chance to paint Obama into a corner and get the President to make a mistake that even the MSM can’t hide.
4. COMMUNICATION ABILITY: the only quality that makes Presidents above-average to great is the ability to communicate complexity into simple language that people either understand or feel like the understand. It was true of Ronald Reagan and it was true of Bill Clinton. Few in politics today communicate with Christie’s skill level. He has the tough love, the ‘don’t shit a shitter’ attitude, and the sense of humor. Most importantly it comes naturally to him. There’s a cheery warmness to his character that comes through. It’s unrehearsed. He can go off-teleprompter, ad lib the day is long, and one never need worry he’s going to say something that could get him in hot water with an overly politically correct press.
The 2012 election will be a close one in the popular vote and in the electoral college. But it’s the governor from New Jersey who has the best chance to land a haymaker that could shift the electoral map completely.