Politico: Christie Hopes NH Trip Will Show He's Viable for 2016

Image: Politico: Christie Hopes NH Trip Will Show He's Viable for 2016 (Tyson Trish/North Jersey/Landov)

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 10:05 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making his second trip this month to an early presidential state as he heads out to New Hampshire on Thursday to prove he's no longer dead man walking, Politico reports.

The Republican governor is hoping to show he's still very much alive in the GOP race for the presidential nomination, even though his presumed campaign for the White House looked to be on life support earlier this year.

His aides, supporters and primary activists point to several factors as proof that he's still got a "political pulse."

They say that there's been no evidence to connect him with the bridge-gate traffic nightmare that originally was expected to destroy his presidential dreams.

His backers also note that no Republican has taken over the pole position in the 2016 race, while GOP moderates have turned their backs on libertarian Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears to have fallen out of favor, especially with conservatives, following his "act of love" comments on immigration earlier this year, says Politico, while noting that Christie has been busy building bridges with Republican colleagues, like ex-Gov. Tom Kean, whom he's offended in the past.

On the other hand, there are GOP pundits who believe Christie will never regain the lead because the problems he faces with the Garden State's ailing economy. Its struggling pension system could be a forewarning of what would happen nationally if he were president.

However, major Christie supporter Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, says Christie is still a GOP force to be reckoned with, while pointing out that the bridge-gate scandal did not dampen the governor's presidential aspirations in the long term.

"All of these investigations [into the George Washington Bridge lane closures] … if there was something of any consequence, you can be sure somebody would have leaked it," Langone told Politico.

A source close to Christie said, "We're seven months out from bridge-gate. You could have had somebody [fill that hole]. Christie benefits from nobody jumping ahead" of him in the GOP race.

But Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who helped Mitt Romney during his 2008 campaign, said the one big bonus Christie had going for him in the past — his brash personality — is now proving to be a drawback.

"The thing I think about Christie that's hard is that his one trick, which used to be adorable and fun — that he would piss off the news media and speak truth to power — now often comes across as bullying and boorish," Castellanos said.

"How do you keep pitching in the major leagues if you can't throw your fastball anymore? I saw him the other day at a press conference and he did the Chris Christie trick and it didn't come across as lovable. It came across as 'Ew.'"

Christie travels to New Hampshire ostensibly to boost GOP hopeful Walt Havenstein's chances in the gubernatorial election in November, according to NJ.com. But he may well be studying his before and after poll figures in the Granite State when he gets back to New Jersey.

His trip follows a similar sojourn to Iowa, where he supposedly endeavored to pump up the campaign of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, and seemingly himself.

Christie is also set to attend a Republican fundraiser this week alongside Kean, with whom he's mended fences after their falling-out over the governor's unsuccessful bid to oust Kean's son, Tom Kean Jr., from a leadership role in the state legislature.

And even though some GOP pundits have written off Christie's chances, Kean Sr. told Politico he's still very alive and kicking in the presidential sweepstakes. "He's in it," declares Kean.

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