The Spectacle Blog

Betting Christie Won’t Run

By on 10.3.11 | 10:51AM

Over at Intrade.com, Chris Christie is trading just over 20 percent to announce that he will run for the presidency -- and 10 percent to receive the nomination -- despite saying repeatedly that he is not running.

Rumors persist that he is reconsidering, and that he is being pushed by high-profile Republicans, such as Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan, and (the less high profile) former New York governor George Pataki. Congressman Peter King (R-NY) all but endorsed Christie saying the New Jersey governor is "closest we have to putting together the old Reagan Democratic coalition."

Here's my prediction (one which has worked well for most other possible candidates): Christie will not run.

Chris Christie knows that he would have a serious problem with the conservative base on three key issues, at least:

First, he accepts the "consensus" that man-made global warming is real.

While it's hard to find a bigger strike against a Republican candidate than that, Christie has one: Back in 2008, when he was still U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Christie offered this response to a question about illegal aliens: "(B)eing in this country without proper documentation is not a crime."

Christie's explanation is that there is, whether we like it or not, a difference in the law between the act of entering the country illegally and the subsequent illegal presence, and apparently they have very different penalties attached. And he might get away with that explanation if that's all he had said.

But it wasn't.

He added "The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime."  Ummmm, yeah, it does, Chris. And the vast majority of Americans of both parties certainly believe that being here illegally is, well, illegal.

This is all but a hanging offense among conservative Republican primary voters, and there's simply no way Chris Christie will want to become an immigration pinata after seeing what Rick Perry is going through.

Finally, Chris Christie has a problem with his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the position of Superior Court judge in New Jersey. It's always hard to know what the facts are in these situations, with people like Sami Al-Arian successfully hiding their terrorist sympathies and efforts to aid terrorist groups for years behind a cloak of public service. Following the appointment of Mohammed, many critics (though mostly not in New Jersey) questioned Mohammed's commitment to U.S. law and suggested that he might try to bring Shariah law into his rulings, a claim that Christie called "crap" -- and indeed it might be just that, and I hope it is. This article explains some of the questions about Mohammed's past, and I'm inclined to agree with Governor Christie that reasons to be suspicious of Mohammed are thin -- but they're not irrational.

Again, the main point, as one of my friends who is a former congressman likes to say, is that "if you're explaining, you're losing." And Sohail Mohammed is just one more thing that Chris Christie would have to explain -- and it's not an easy sell, particularly in places without a very diverse population, places like Iowa for example.

All in all, I don't think Chris Christie is nearly as strong a candidate as his current supporters suggest. Like Rick Perry, like Sarah Palin could have been (but I have been betting for months that she won't run), he would be the flavor of the month, only to see it all settle back down into a long, brutal grind for the nomination. If there's one thing you can say for Mitt Romney, it's that he seems extremely well prepared for just that situation, the tortoise among a stage full of hares.

It's also worth noting that while Christie is doing a good job as governor so far, he has almost no experience that's relevant to the presidency, particularly at a time when executive and managerial expertise is so important. Why should we believe that Governor Christie has any better ideas on the economy than anybody else on the stage? Indeed the opposite is more credible when you look at the resmues of many of the other candidates.

Christie knows all this. He's a smart guy. He's doing a good job as governor. He should stay there, build his national reputation and his executive experience, and then consider running in 2020, when which ever Republican who beats Barack Obama in 2012 will be out of office. Yes, it's a long time, but Christie's not an old guy, and it will give him some time to lose some weight, Huckabee-style.

I had similar thoughts, though for very different underlying reasons on the policy front, about Paul Ryan. He was the flavor of the week for a while, but rightly decided not to run. It's great to see a politician whose ego is in check. I think Christie's ego is in check like Ryan's.

I continue to believe that Chris Christie will not run.

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