New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has enjoyed a resurgence of attention in recent weeks, in part because of a perceived or at least expected shift in many primary voters’ priorities towards national security issues. In recent days there have been several articles suggesting that Christie may be poised to be the “surprise” candidate of 2016, rising from the bottom of the pack to serious contender status. Here is National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar with an assessment:
The Case for Chris Christie’s Political Comeback
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offers a case study in the futility of obsessing over polls at the expense of everything else. If you just look at his national and early-state numbers, which still hover in the low single-digits, it would be easy to conclude that he faces near-impossible odds of winning the GOP’s presidential nomination; by the former measure, he was left off the stage at the last Republican debate. But after considering the governor’s strategic discipline—win New Hampshire or else—and fortuitous message focused on national security and law-and-order issues, it’s clear that Christie is well-positioned for a political comeback….
His entire campaign now rests on the fickle voters of New Hampshire, where he has held 36 town-hall meetings and where his campaign and super PAC have spent most of their $6.4 million in advertising. A strong performance in the Granite State—finishing at the top of the establishment-friendly field, or a close second—would alter the trajectory of the Republican race. Momentum is everything in presidential politics, and a Christie comeback would turn around his flagging fundraising in time for the expensive March primary battles. Donors have always liked Christie, but backed away when his prospects looked long.
Despite Christie’s relentless effort in the state, the political return has been mixed. Most consequentially, he’s beginning to overcome much of the resistance from Republican voters who viewed him as too moderate to be the party’s standard-bearer. His embrace of President Obama after Superstorm Sandy has been overshadowed by his acidic attacks against the administration’s handling of national security.
His favorable/unfavorable rating in New Hampshire is now an encouraging 51/30, according to a recent Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll. His net favorables are a tick better than Jeb Bush and John Kasich, and are trending upwards….
One of the most encouraging signs for Christie’s campaign is his recent endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader, the most prominent newspaper in the state and long regarded as a conservative news outlet:
The New Hampshire Union Leader offered Christie an early, glowing endorsement headlined: “For our safety, for our future: Chris Christie.” While the paper’s track record of picking winners isn’t great, it’s notable that the conservative editorial board picked a candidate perceived as too moderate. The paper holds a solid track record swaying uncommitted voters, and in such a crowded field, their backing carries more weight. In addition, Christie has been racking up support from pivotal New Hampshire insiders, an important indicator of voter backing down the road.
Kraushaar notes that Christie still faces headwinds, most notably the fact that he still lags behind his competitors in the polls. But he is nevertheless bullish on Christie’s chances:
Still, it’s striking that Christie has a pathway to victory when his campaign looked to be on life support not long ago. His political fortunes are akin to his hometown New York Giants—a real shot at making the (political) playoffs, but needing other campaigns to collapse. To prevail in New Hampshire, he’ll need to win over support from the other executives—Bush, Kasich, and Carly Fiorina—while potentially peeling off some of Trump’s widespread support. For everything to break his way is plausible, but a risky bet.
Usually, two candidates emerge from the political rubble of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries. This year, we could see four: Trump as the candidate of GOP populists, Cruz or Carson as the evangelicals’ pick, Rubio as the early establishment favorite, and Christie as the establishment alternative eager to contrast his executive experience against first-term senators, a neurosurgeon, and a reality-show star.
CNN politics reporter Tom Lobianco explores Christie’s chances, and raises a simple question – is the New Jersey governor’s rise too little, too late?
The New Hampshire primary, which is crucial to Christie's presidential prospects, is just over two months away and the New Jersey governor is in seventh place in the state. Nationally, his low single-digit support places him just slightly ahead of candidates like former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
And he still faces some familiar drawbacks that include a warm embrace of President Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy and the Bridgegate scandal, which dampened much of the Christie enthusiasm before he even entered the race.
This is a critical stretch for Christie to break out of the bottom tier of candidates. If he can't capitalize on the endorsements from the paper and GOP activists Dan and Renee Plummer, as well as increased media attention between now and the final Republican debate of 2015, on December 15, the question becomes whether he will ever be able to move up in the polls.
Seeking to make the most of the moment, Christie will be on Capitol Hill meeting with Republican members of Congress tomorrow, reports Politico:
The New Jersey governor is inviting congressional lawmakers, lobbyists, and operatives to a Thursday evening “meet-and-greet” at the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP hangout adjacent to the offices of the Republican National Committee, according to two sources familiar with the planning for the gathering. Co-hosting the meeting are New Jersey Reps. Tom MacArthur, Leonard Lance, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Frank LoBiondo, Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan, and Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks. All are supporting Christie.
Christie’s real challenge is to sustain the growing interest in his candidacy and avoid the fates of two candidates who have enjoyed similar moments in the spotlight, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Carson appears to be fading after the increased attention brought increased scrutiny of his statements, while Fiorina appears not to have had the organizational infrastructure in place to sustain the momentum she earned after two stellar debate performances. Christie is a seasoned politician, however, and it could be that he winds up with a strong finish in New Hampshire and vaults into contention for the Republican nomination.