Let’s talk about the Republican presidential race, shall we?
After all, there’s very little point in talking about the Democrat race. That’s pretty much all Hillary Clinton all the time. Zzzzzz . . . .
So, onto the Republicans where the race is so much more interesting and so much more complicated, or so it would seem.
We’ve just learned that Chris Christie was interrogated by federal prosecutors apparently in connection with the ongoing (it seems to never end) Bridgegate investigation. The Governor fully cooperated with investigators as he always said he would. Indeed, he’s cooperated throughout all the investigations, though it must be wearisome.
“Governor Christie made clear from day one that he and his administration would fully cooperate with all appropriate inquiries,” Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella reportedly said. “That’s exactly what he has done and will continue to do, and he is very much looking forward to this matter’s conclusion.”
Fine. We understand. But this has been a helluva year for Christie who is not yet an officially declared presidential candidate. The Governor says he will make his decision soon. He was expected to discuss the matter with his family over the holidays.
But other factors (not the list of which is the ongoing investigation and its ultimate outcome) are complicating matters.
Christie was a a top fund-raiser for George W. Bush. That’s how he began to come to prominence. And the Bush family very much wanted Christie to enter the 2012 presidential race when the Governor was a hot, hot proerty on the national stage and his home state popularity was much higher than it is now.
But Christie demurred and opted to support Mitt Romney. Indeed, Christie was one of the first Big Names to get solidly behind Romney. A smart move (inasmuch as Christie decided not to run himself) since Romney became the nominee.
Now, George W’s brother Jeb is almost certainly running in 2016 and this has nudged Romney closer to running. In fact, we now know that Romney has told his major donors that he’s seriously considering a 2016 run. Translation: “Don’t give to Jeb because I’m running.”
Well, theoretically Romney and Bush draw from the same establishment GOP circles that Christie draws from. And Christie at one time or another has been a cheerleader for the Romneys and the Bushes. Plus, neither Romney nor Bush has an ongoing investigation (with its attendant worries and potential snags) hanging over him. And neither one has to run a state while they’re running.
That would seem to make things difficult for Christie.
Now, let’s be sure about this: Christie is still a healthy draw coast to coast and he polls quite well nationally.
But the right/moderate GOP pool is only so big. There are only so many such voters and donors.
Seemingly close to Christie on the ideological spectrum is another governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin. But Walker has not been as visible nationally. The disadvantage for Walker is that that he’s not as well known throughout the country as Christie. The advantage? He’s not as well known throughout the country as Christie. So, Walker can present himself nationally as a fresh(er) face. That might have some appeal in a field that is led by Romney and a Bush seeking to run against a Clinton. One can see Walker stepping up as the mild-mannered conservative who makes Big Things Happen in an agreeable, mid-American way.
This is the same appeal that Ronald Reagan had. He was a strong conservative but he didn’t rattle sabers. He was mostly non-confrontational. Indeed, he hardly ever raised his voice.
Remember, though: Walker is largely untested on the national stage.
Now, when we move decidedly to the right we have Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Rand Paul, with Paul being the most Libertarian of the bunch. Perry, Cruz and Paul are all feisty and will give us a good show. But they might destroy one another in the process.
Rubio projects a boyish charm that makes him seem like a caring conservative. But he can show his teeth as well. Just look at the strong case he made against Obama’s latest outreach to Cuba. Still, would Rubio take on his own mentor, Jeb Bush?
Added to this whole mix we find the Ultimate Outsider, Carly Fiorina. Now, she could be a real game-changer in a year when people seem anxious and totally down on all-too-familiar names and faces.
In the cyber age when social media is hugely defining, the shelf life of a politician is dwindling at the same alarming rate as the number of brick-and-mortar retailers . In fact, the last election was mostly all about Obama fatigue. Remember when he was “new” and “hot”? Now he looks like Sears.
Maybe this next election will leave an opening for someone who’s completely out of the political mainstream — someone who’s “new” because he or she is not even a politician.
Could it be Fiorina?
Or might that new name and face be someone else — someone we haven’t even thought of yet?
We’ll say this: Expect developments to come fast and furious in the next few weeks. It could get sticky and messy and a lot more interesting.
Yes, we remain solid Christie fans here. And make no mistake about it: We’re sticking with The Gov.
But Christie (and anyone else who may be in this race or who may be considering diving in) will have to be agile to keep up with things as we head into the next phase. Decisions will have to be made quickly. There won’t be any time for restful contemplation or protective calculation. No way!
The Titans have entered the ring now.
And they have a tendency to shake things up — and out.
In the land of the pachyderms, the earth will rumble and bodies will tumble.
Hold on tight!