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Could Christie navigate the difficult waters of a Republican presidential race? Possibly. I don’t know. He has quickly built a terrific personal brand, and he is a skilled politician.
But the whole tone of the media coverage of Christie would change if and when he enters the race. The media’s current cheerleading would likely give way quickly to focus on the challenges facing him and on those elements of the party that find his record and statements objectionable.
Christie surely would have to address his repeated explanation that he wasn’t interested in running for the presidency at this time because he “isn’t ready.” If the governor wasn’t ready last week or last month, how could he possibly be ready now?
And the New Jersey Republican’s thin political résumé — Morris County freeholder and less than two years as governor — might remind too many people of Obama’s.
Christie’s persona is both an advantage and a question mark in a White House bid.
Both Romney and Perry look and sound like candidates from central casting, and that bothers some. Christie is very different. As Shear wrote, “In an era when people say they are tired of slick, pre-programmed politicians who faithfully repeat a focus-group-tested message, the New Jersey governor is anything but.”
Still, it’s unclear whether Christie’s New Jersey style will wear well nationally. Some veteran Garden State Republicans have told me that they doubt that the governor’s in-your-face style will sell over time in other parts of the country.
Christie might well be a strong opponent for Obama, if he could get the nomination. But it is far from clear that he could, and the candidacy of a second Northeast governor could end up benefiting the Texan Perry during the nominating process.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.