New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wasn’t ready to be president in 2012. “The only way you’re going to perform well is if you believe in your heart that you’re ready to be president,” he told Yahoo News’ Matt Bai in an interview published today. “And I didn’t. And so there was no way I would have won in 2012. I wouldn’t have, because I wasn’t ready.”
When asked if he were ready now, he said, “yes.” However, it isn’t clear that the rest of the country is quite so sure anymore.
A new Rutgers University poll released today shows that 69 percent of New Jersey voters think that Christie would not be a good president. Fifty-eight percent of voters say that the word presidential did not describe the governor “at all.”
An ABC News/Washington Post poll from the end of March had only 26 percent of Republican voters saying they had a favorable opinion of Christie. Fifty-seven percent of Republican voters told NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters that they couldn’t see themselves voting for Christie.
A kindergarten teacher told him last week “that she’d had trouble explaining to her students why it was fine for the man who holds the highest office in the state to use words like ‘shut up’ and ‘idiot’ when they can’t.” The National Rifle Association didn’t invite him to its big annual party.
On top of that, the federal investigation into Bridgegate will end soon, and the New York Times reports that indictments will likely follow. Christie has delayed announcing his 2016 plans because of the probe, which sought to uncover more details about the office politics that caused the “traffic problems in Fort Lee” — as well as find out if those involved in this unsuccessful revenge scheme could also be accused of conflicts of interest and bribery. Christie has denied knowing anything about his staff’s involvement in the George Washington Bridge closings, and it is unlikely that he would be indicted, but it still doesn’t look good when your friends and co-workers are being targeted for potential wrongdoing by the federal government — which you might like to one day run.
However, Christie’s current timetable (he has said he is unlikely to enter the race before May or June) for announcing a presidential bid — if he decides it is still feasible after his scandalous office problems return to the news cycle — shows that he thinks that everyone might decide to like him again after a few months of listening to declared candidates make mistakes and suffer overexposure.
When Bai asked if Christie could afford to wait until the summer to announce his campaign, he retorted, “What’s happening, exactly, that would make me want to go faster?”
“Anyone who thinks the current shape of this race will be static just hasn’t been alive to watch the last, you know, 10 presidential races,” he said.
In other words, Christie appears to be experimenting with Katniss Everdeen’s Hunger Games strategy — hide in the woods (of New Hampshire) until all your other opponents kill each other, rescue one of your weakest competitors who would definitely have no chance of beating you to be your vice-presidential pick, and then reemerge, announce you are a winner, and win the love of the nation.
It seems a bit risky, but given Christie’s status in the 2016 race at this point, it’s not like he has anything to lose.