Garance Franke-Ruta writes in the Atlantic that Chris Christie does not have a likability problem. From where I am standing, he does indeed.
If you want to carry the Bible Belt, New Jersey is not the best place to be from. Southern street creds are not an absolute, but being able to talk southern is, and for Christie to even attempt to reach out to them would look awkward at best, ludicrous for most of the southern audience. The first time Chris Christie says ‘Y’all’, the audience will grow quiet. The reason Bill Clinton and George Bush got to be President is that they understood southern. Southern blacks came out for Obama. Would they do the same for Christie?
For a large majority of southerners, abortion is not an issue; it is the only issue. There is no waffling on this one, and on abortion, Christie has done a lot waffling. He is now agin it, but not exactly carrying a torch in the pro-life movement parade. Santorum will make sure no one forgets. A sudden conversion will make him look bad here, and even worse back home. It is very hard to suddenly adopt hard right convictions. The press doesn’t play that game, and they will harangue him with questions all through the spring. It also flies in the face of Christie’s basic character. I am what I am. Popeye doesn’t grovel, not even for votes.
If you script Christie, he is no longer Christie. That is what Jersey likes about him. He goes about life in the cowboy way. Shoot first, ask questions later. It worked for Reagan. But Reagan was scripted. If running for President was a sprint, Christie might get away with being the unscripted cowboy, but slogging it out for a year, reporters in tow, every comment under a microscope, and this guy is going to blow. It is his nature. He cannot shut up and play the game. If he did, voters wouldn’t find him refreshing.
New Jersey is not exactly on fire. Taxes are high. Job growth is modest. The usual problems exist in the urban areas. New Jersey doesn’t blame him for this, but Rubio will, and Cruz will bring it up every chance he gets. What exactly can Chris Christie do for America that he can’t do for New Jersey?
Right, Chris Christie may not have a likability problem.
He may have an electability problem.