If Christie runs, and the egomania of last night makes it all but
inevitable, he will at some point have to encounter and beat a serious
Tea Party candidate. It could be Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or both. It will
not just be a personality battle. Christie’s positions on climate
science, Medicaid expansion, gun control and immigration reform – cited by Chait
– are red flags to the base Christianists and extreme libertarians.
Given Christie’s temperament, I’d say it will be a very entertaining but
brutal battle for the soul of the party. Christie’s embrace of Obama
during Sandy, his state’s marriage equality, his Northeastern roots, and
the big establishment money behind him will also polarize the elites
and the base. And his political style is not exactly to pour oil on
troubled waters. He’ll say something mean and nasty at some point, and
it could either cement his stature or make him look very small.
I can see him trashing Paul as someone who’s never run anything and
who’s a surrender monkey in foreign policy. I can also see him
lambasting Cruz for his recklessness and extreme partisanship. I guess
what I’m saying is that I doubt he can win the nomination without a deep
and damaging divide emerging – and maybe even a third Tea Party
candidate. That’s not a good starting point for a general election,
however wide his appeal in the country at large.