Chris Christie: Why He Made the Right Call

Chris Christie: Why He Made the Right Call

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Dear Governor Christie,

Mea culpa for writing again so soon, but it was heartening to hear that you got the hell off the fence and made a decision – even if it’s to not get into the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Thankfully for you, the next 12 months will not be a blur of outstretched hands and rubber chicken (because presumably you would have wrested the nomination from the manicured fingers of Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry). But you still could have a daunting year ahead as you position yourself as a GOP kingmaker.

Republican candidates from Romney to Michelle Bachmann have been trooping to Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan to genuflect before The Donald and possibly garner his support. Cain was there on Monday. (That’s almost as odious a spectacle as the Democratic candidates  --Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama among them -- who used to head to Harlem to seek the blessing of Al Sharpton.)

But now instead of begging to be an Apprentice, the pack will be thundering to Trenton to plead for your imprimatur. That will give you a chance to talk some sense into some of the possible nominees. And they will listen if you play your campaign-contributor cards right.

“The only Christie question worth asking now is whether he can control his donors, representing millions of dollars in donations that Romney feels rightfully belong to his finance committee, in order to remain a kingmaker,” says political analyst and pollster Thom Riehle of YouGov in Washington.

All the big-money boys who were pressuring you to run are no doubt disappointed. Still, they will have to put their influence and dollars behind someone. But who? Perry has spooked Wall Street with his Fed attacks. And while Cain may play well with the Tea Party in Florida, where he scored that straw poll victory, can he win over the crucial independent vote in a general election? “Republicans are starting to realize that the 2012 Presidential race is theirs to lose,” says Riehle, “and they’ll either decide Perry has toned it down enough to not lose, or they’ll give up on Perry and settle on Romney.”

A Mitt vs. Barack match won’t be nearly as colorful as a Christie vs. Obama card would have been. (On Face the Nation last Sunday, Martin O’Malley, the Democratic governor of Maryland, said snidely about the possibility of you running: “Certainly there will be tremendous entertainment value -- especially if you like Don Rickles.”)  But, hey, you probably made the right call.

The game of primary leapfrog the states are playing  –  South Carolina’s primary is now on Jan. 21 – would have made the task of fielding a credible campaign organization ever more difficult. As Riehle points out: “It would have been almost impossible for a guy who was a Morris County freeholder for four years, a U.S. attorney for six years, and now a governor for not quite two years to be up to speed on national and international issues and be able to navigate the shortened primary window without embarrassing himself.”

Arguably, that’s more executive experience than President Obama had before he won the White House. But a question that would have entered plenty of people’s minds is this: “Do we really want to replace a guy with no major managerial experience with another guy with only slightly more time at the helm?”

As Sarah Palin might ask: “How’s that first guy with no executive experience workin’ out for ya?”