By Matt Rooney | Cross-posted at SaveJersey.com
I still don't think it's going to happen, Save Jerseyans. I'm not even sure that I'd want it to happen.
But history often makes the man, and this could be Chris Christie's time. All indicators (published and whispered) suggest he's at least in the "final four" of veepstakes contenders; possibly better than that because I firmly believe Tim Pawlenty's name is being floated as a favor to him for dropping out early and campaigning hard for Mitt.
So if Mitt Romney DOES convene a press conference next week with Chris Christie at his side, here are my top five reasons, in reverse order, explaining why his candidacy came to pass...
(5) Christie has been a very loyal friend.
Lots of folks around the country have been working hard for Mitt Romney for a long time. Few, however, have spent days at a time on the road raising money (in large denominations and amounts) for the presumptive nominee as he seesawed in the primary polling. Christie also jumped into the race and endorsed relatively early (back in October 2011); at the time, some observers thought it might've been too early to make a difference, and the race certainly continued to drag on for many more painful months. That doesn't mean Mitt didn't both appreciate it and make note of it. Most people prize loyalty, but Governor Romney reportedly holds it above all other traits. Chris Christie passes that first big litmus test.
(4) He's Not from a Battleground State, But He Has Battleground Appeal.
Chris Christie brings a lot to any table. Significantly, he's earned a 55% approval rating among registered voters in a state that hasn't gone "blue" in a presidential cycle since 1988 and hasn't elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 40 years. And while we here at Save Jersey sometimes disagree with the Governor's decision, he's been an active, bold and God knows confrontational conservative chief executive on the balance. Would VP candidate Christie deliver the Garden State to Romney's column? Doubtful. Those things usually don't translate. That said, I can think of plenty of battleground spots around the country (including right across the Delaware River in the Philadelphia suburbs) where Christie's unique brand of Republicanism could help the Republic ticket put new territory into play. If Obama is spending money to fight in Pennsylvania this October, folks, then he's probably going to lose this race.
(3) Christie... Hulking Heaping Hunk of Love?
You can't overlook this extremely interesting aspect of the Christie success story. Two relatively recent surveys pegged Governor Christie's support among New Jersey women (hardly an uber-conservative voting demographic) at 48% and 45% respectively. They love the guy! Relatively speaking. And it drives liberals nuts because they can't figure out how a big, fat, boisterous Republican who cuts Planned Parenthood funding and calls reporters idiots to their faces could possibly appeal to the fairer sex. It's fun to watch. Ironically, the square-jawed Romney may look like a ken doll but doesn't do quite as well with women in battleground polling. Christie could provide a little help closing the much-discussed female gender gap.
(2) Christie Changes the Narrative.
Chris Christie's celebrity would obviously bring "energy" to the ticket. Sarah Palin initially did, took, but this is a different kind of celebrity. Unlike Palin, Christie's reforming spirit and record would have made him a household name before his hypothetical VP candidacy. Meanwhile, the MSM and Obama campaigns are doing their best to frame Romney as an out-of-touch, silver spoon fed, somewhat plastic captain of industry. Complaints from the Right usually contain the words "boring" or "unexciting" somewhere in there. NONE of these characterizations, however, are applicable to the Governor of New Jersey in any way whatsoever. His bio is much more middle class (check out my interview with Bob Ingle and his new Christie book if you haven't already), and even his political enemies typically don't doubt that this scrappy politician has the courage of his convictions. This contrast would aid the GOP ticket in achieving personality balance though perhaps not any greater measure of ideological balance. I also think adding Christie to the ticket would turn transform this election from a pure popularity contest (which favors Obama) to a referendum on the status quo (which favor Romney) as the Republican nominee makes it entirely clear to independents through his veep choice that he intends to govern "differently" in D.C.
(1) Mitt is in a Street Fight, and Christie is a Champion Brawler.
This last point is obvious but also the most important, Save Jerseyans. President Obama is fighting a scorched earth campaign in 2012, folks. I'm sure you've noticed! His surrogates continue to hurl wild, substantiated and often downright shocking accusations at Mitt Romney. As we were the first to report yesterday, he's even emailing voters in the home states of potential GOP veep candidates in search of dirt. Therefore, I don't think Romney can rely just on his superior class and character to carry the day. He needs to respond forcefully; thus far, as poor Andrea Saul demonstrated on cable television, this isn't the campaign's strongest suit. Chris Christie is a happy warrior. He effectively deflected similar attacks in 2009 when Jon Corzine went after him over breast cancer screenings with Reagan-esque skill. A vice presidential candidate's traditional role is always that of the campaign's attacker-in-chief. I'm starting to think Mitt can't afford to tap someone with any less brass than Christie to win this type of campaign.
Matt Rooney is a New Jersey attorney, noted conservative commentator, and the founder & Blogger-in-Chief of New Jersey’s #1 conservative blog, Save Jersey. You can learn more about Matt and the Christie Revolution by visiting today!