New Jersey Governor Chris Christie formally announced his run for the presidency on June 30 at Livingston High School, the institution which awarded him a high school diploma 35 years ago. Christie elected to make his announcement at his alma mater “because everything started here for me.” Kudos to Christie for picking the perfect venue. Too bad no one is paying much attention. After all, he is the 14th GOP candidate to launch his bid for the White House. Furthermore, a recent Real Clear Politics poll has Christie polling at 4%, putting him in 9th place, after Donald Trump. Christie fares even worse in a recent Fox News poll where he is in 11th place, polling at just 2%. Just a few months ago, Christie’s numbers were in double digits on the heels of Jeb Bush. These results show just how far Christie’s star has fallen since 2012 when buoyed by his re-election as New Jersey Governor, he was being hailed as the “next president of the United States.”
Some say Christie missed the boat by not running for the presidency in 2012. After all, back then he was very popular. Everyone liked his no nonsense approach He was adored by the conservatives and appeared to have cross-over appeal with moderates. Christie also served as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association where he campaigned for fellow governors and established a network of Republicans in key states.
The love affair started waning when Christie experienced some problems back in his home state. His office was terribly damaged by the infamous “Bridge Gate” scandal in September 2013 where members of the Christie administration allegedly tied up the George Washington Bridge as retribution to a Bergen County Mayor who had failed to support Christie’s campaign. While Christie claimed he had no knowledge of the incident and dismissed the staff members involved, his image was tarnished by the scandal.
Conservatives were also not enamored of his bear hug with Obama following Hurricane Sandy where he also famously criticized the Republican House. And of course, economic problems in New Jersey including bloated unfunded pensions have created further dissatisfaction with candidate Christie. According to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, Christie’s approval rating with New Jersey residents has plummeted to an all-time low of 30%. Christie’s approval rating of 50% with New Jersey Republicans was also not encouraging. Christie’s positions have had mixed results. He has been criticized for being inconsistent on gun control and common core. On the other hand, social conservatives appreciate his stance against same sex marriage and his passing a bill in March to ban abortion after 20 weeks. He has also been praised for implementing tough budget reforms.
So where does Christie go from here? He opened his campaign announcement by saying that “Both parties have failed our country,” Christie went on to say that “Americans ‘are filled with anxiety” that can be “swept away by strong leadership and decisiveness to lead America again.” He tried to differentiate himself from the other candidates by saying that unlike some of the other 2016 candidates “you won’t have to worry whether I can do it or not”. He also warned that after seven years of Barack Obama’s “feckless leadership”, we better not “turn the country over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton.”
With his signature no nonsense rhetoric, Christie is telling the world that while he may be behind in the polls, he is still in the race. Don’t count him out yet.
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