These are not the best of times for Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey. The man has just lost a golden opportunity to be thrust back into the limelight once his days as governor are over. There are reports that Donald Trump wanted to pick him as his vice presidential candidate, but was prevailed upon to change his mind. Trump instead opted for Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana. Even so, Trump still wanted to change his mind again so he could bless Christie who has shown untrammeled loyalty to him all along, but his children and Paul Manafort, his campaign manager who had advised him to go with Pence in the first place, told him he could not do that because it would be too embarrassing to the campaign and the man whose name he had already announced. Trump naturally betrays a stunning degree of naivete that often translates as sheer innocence before ordinary folks.
Christie, who started so well as New Jersey governor years ago and was touted early on by observers as great presidential material, has had a very distressing second term in office. His last four years has been markedly plagued by the Bridgegate scandal. His personality as a brash, disrespectful sort of fellow hasn’t helped either. His job approval ratings have since remained in the latrine. So, when he threw his hat into the ring a little over a year ago, his hope was that he could leave all that mess in New Jersey behind and hatch a new beginning.
His presidential campaign was starting to gain traction in New Hampshire when a super pac working on behalf of a rival campaign dumped the kitchen sink on him. That rival campaign was Marco Rubio’s. Suddenly, Christie’s New Hampshire numbers which had been ticking up gradually after one of the state’s influential newspapers endorsed him, began to recede south like the ones back home.
Hell hath no fury like a wounded lion, especially if that lion was a man who was once a hard-charging prosecutor. Christie was ready to have his day in court, sorry, on the debate stage against the “truant” senator from Florida. Poor Rubio! He should have seen what was coming, as Christie, fuming and licking the wounds Rubio’s super pac had inflicted on him, was heard so many times signaling what he was going to do to him. Well, it may be that Rubio thought there was nothing Christie could do to him any more. After all, had not Old Nick said that if you want to wound a man, you should make it so severe you need not fear his vengeance? Well, long story short, Christie came fiercely at Rubio during that famous New Hampshire debate with claws unretracted. Within just five minutes of the debate time, Rubio’s presidential career was over.
Going nowhere himself, nowhere to go, Christie announced the end of his own campaign hours after the New Hampshire primary, and then hitched his wagon to Trump’s star. From then on, Christie would become the billionaire’s Man Friday and general factotum, allegedly holding his coats and fetching him McDonald’s. A brilliant man with the astute eye of the opportunist, Christie saw something on the horizon which Trump, in his own gut, really wanted to oblige his loyal friend of so many years, but Manafort and Trump’s kids would not let that be.
Despite his failed presidential run, despite his problems in New Jersey, we ought to give Christie credit for something, still: the dude does know how to take an opponent to the woodshed. He was the most dangerous candidate against Hillary Clinton during the primaries. I sensed that a long time ago when I wrote some related stuff here and here about him. Had he won the Republican nomination, the battle to prevail would have been a lot tougher for Clinton than is presently the case with Trump as her opponent. And had Trump chosen him as his vice presidential candidate, Christie could still have remained infinitely more dangerous than anyone else as the business mogul’s attack dog against Clinton, especially with that damning FBI characterization of her use of a private email server.
The gains of choosing Pence over Christie remain to be seen. But there’s hardly any doubt in my mind that Christie would have made a far more effective running mate/surrogate for Trump. Clinton should consider herself the winner for this.