Could we be seeing the Return of Rudy? Or will it be Here Comes Christie? Hmmm. Let’s look at the prospects.
It’s hard to be in a better position right now than the Governor of New Jersey. He has party honchos practically begging him to get into the race for the Republican nomination. And with good reason. Chris Christie talks tough, and speaks plainly. He’s young, and is an executive who is not afraid to act boldly. He is very comfortable in front of TV cameras, and doesn’t shy away from tough questions.
Christie has the look and feel of a centrist, but has hard-right credentials. He is pro-life, tough on crime, is despised by New Jersey unions and is a tightwad on spending. He says he won’t raise taxes.
And if that were not enough, this week he took New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap and trade program that the Governor says is a crippling energy tax. That is all red meat for the hard right.
The Governor is married with four children, and it seems he has no personal baggage to worry about. Only problem: He has said he is not running. In fact, he has screamed it at the top of his lungs. He adds that he is not ready to be President. Of course, he can always walk that talk back, but he has been very convincing on the topic.
Rudy Giuliani has been sitting on the fence for quite some time now. On “Good Day New York” in December, I asked him point-blank if he was running. He evaded the question, which was a bit of a surprise since I expected a quick denial.
Giuliani and Christie are not as similar as they seem. Giuliani’s moderate credentials were the curse of his 2008 campaign. While many figured it was time for the GOP to move forward on social issues, the party shunned those who did not fall into line on issues like abortion. The former Mayor’s strength is on national security and terror issues. But with the killing of Osama Bin Laden, that campaign pitch does not have the same urgency.
I for one believe that while Giuliani campaigned miserably for President, he may have learned his lesson. While he never seemed completely comfortable in 2008, it’s possible that he is free from feeling constricted in a 2012 race, and could let “Rudy be Rudy.” Like Christie, the Mayor does have formidable media skills, but in his last race he seemed obsessed with placating the hard right. While that’s what the early primaries are all about, Republican voters know that they could wind up with someone like Tim Pawlenty if they insist on strict litmus tests for candidates. They need a star to challenge Barack Obama.
Will it be Rudy or Christie, or both or neither? In spite of what people think, I feel Rudy has nothing to lose, except that he could lose again. And that really won’t affect his standing with anyone.
Christie could be blowing the opportunity of a lifetime. By 2016, the thrill could be gone.
Giuliani campaigned for Christie, and the man who ran his White House race, Mike Duhaime, has been one of Christie’s top advisors.
If they both run, it could be a heck of a race. If neither do, the Republicans are in trouble.
Hey, is Trump is still available?