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Eye On Candidates
June 30, 2015

Chris Christie to Announce This Morning

The number of candidates in the GOP field for the 2016 nomination is expected to grow to fifteen this morning, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announcing his candidacy. Bloomberg Politics offers their report:

Chris Christie Poised to Announce Presidential Campaign

Governor Chris Christie, whose brand of Jersey-guy brashness was tarnished by a political-payback scandal, is expected to announce Tuesday that he’s running for U.S. president, the 14th Republican to join the 2016 primary contest.

The two-term governor of New Jersey will appear in Livingston, the Newark suburb where his parents, he says, achieved the middle-class standard of homeownership and prosperity. He plans to travel after that to Sandown, New Hampshire, to preside over a town-hall meeting—a routine he’d done 137 times in New Jersey until he stopped in mid-May because, he told reporters last week, “I got tired of it.”

Four years ago, Christie, who runs a state where registered Democrats outnumber his party by more than 700,000, turned down overtures from party leaders and business executives, saying “now is not my time” to seek the White House. Some early backers, such as Home Depot Inc. co-founder Kenneth Langone, have signed on again, even as Christie must answer for New Jersey’s lackluster economic recovery, a failed promise to fund a pension system with an $83 billion unfunded liability, and record-low home-state approval...

The generally negative tenor of this article is fairly typical of the pre-announcement media coverage of Christie's announcement, suggesting Christie has some hard work ahead of him to become a factor in this race. Here's how the New York Times opens their story this morning:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose meteoric rise as a national Republican in his first term was matched only by his spectacular loss of stature at home in his second, is set to enter the 2016 presidential race on Tuesday morning bearing little resemblance to the candidate he once expected to be.

The economic recovery he promised has turned into a cascade of ugly credit downgrades and anemic job growth. The state pension he vowed to fix has descended into a morass of missed payments and lawsuits. The administration he pledged would be a paragon of ethics has instead conspired to mire an entire town in traffic and the governor’s office in scandal.

Just three and a half years ago, Mr. Christie seemed so popular, compelling and formidable, such an antidote to all that ailed the Republican brand, that senior figures in the party pleaded with him to run for president as a substitute for their eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

But today, a staggering 55 percent of Republican primary voters say that they cannot envision voting for Mr. Christie, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, a remarkable deficit from which to embark on a national campaign. The only candidate less palatable: Donald J. Trump, the bombastic developer-turned-reality television star...

Despite the dour consensus regarding Christie's chances, he brings some real assets to the race that could allow him to jump into the upper tier of candidates in the polls. First and foremost of those assets is probably his personality, which is well-suited to taking over a debate stage and drawing Republican caucus and primary voters to his message. The New York Times goes on to note:

With two pillars of his presidential run — his record and his judgment — looking wobblier than ever, Mr. Christie must build a campaign around his most raw and prodigious asset: his personality...

The Washington Post picks up on the idea of Christie's personality being his chief asset as well:

Still, the outsize persona that made Christie a Republican rock star early in his first term remains: part former federal prosecutor and part suburban dad yelling at a soccer game. As the once-soaring hopeful gets ready to become the 14th official GOP presidential contender during a rally Tuesday at Livingston High School, his alma mater, he is banking on his liveliness to revive his wilted prospects.

“I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie said in a two-minute Web video released over the weekend, adding that his Sicilian mother taught him to never “hold anything back...”

...Christie plans to plod ahead, town hall meeting by town hall meeting, seeking to recapture the political magic that drew millions of clicks on YouTube in 2010, when his office began uploading his clashes with public-school teachers, and he landed on the covers of conservative magazines and was cheered by right-wing television personalities...

Christie's fall from a leading 2012 contender (who never actually joined the race) to the bottom of the pack in 2016 is no doubt disappointing to his fans, but if he can qualify for the Republican debates by being in the top ten candidates according to the national polls, his brash and confrontational style is likely to earn him respect and support.