Debate: Would a 2016 Christie Run Unite the GOP or Shred It?

Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 08:29 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Two Republican activists with strong feelings toward New Jersey Gov. Chris Cristie — one for, one against — squared off on Newsmax TV Thursday.

Christie critic Carrie Severino and Christie supporter Chris Barron didn't settle the question of the moderate Republican governor's fitness to run for president. But their visit with "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner proved that Christie remains a part of the 2016 conversation — albeit a noisy, divisive part for now.

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"I think he's going to make a run, and I think he can overcome bridge-gate," said Christie backer and GOProud founder Barron, alluding to the scandal over a politically motivated bridge lane shutdown by Christie aides.

Severino, policy director at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has pelted Christie with negative ads accusing him of picking liberals for state judgeships, said she is "not convinced" that Christie could unite the party nationally.

She told Berliner that Christie's judicial record bodes poorly for somebody who would have responsibility for naming judges to the federal bench.

"One of the most most important things that the next president is going to be doing is shaping the Supreme Court for the next generation," said Severino.

She said Christie is likely to pick the next David Souter — a nominee of Republican President George H. W. Bush who "ended up being one of the leading liberal judges on the Supreme Court."

Barron said Christie's conservative naysayers overlook his leadership of a liberal state.

"He is forced to work with an overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled legislature, and he has done that," said Barron. "And when he has needed to stand up and fight — I don't think anybody out there believes that Chris Christie rolls over for anybody."

"You look at his record, particularly in a blue state like New Jersey, and you're looking at one of the most effective governors in this country," said Barron.

He said candidate Christie would have to contend with bridge-gate and, among conservatives, his friendliness toward President Barack Obama during New Jersey's recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

"It's obviously going to take work, and his opponents are going to continue to take shots at him, particularly within the Republican Party," said Barron. "Because they know that Chris Christie is exactly the type of leader who could unite the party, and they're afraid of what a Gov. Christie candidacy would look like."

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