Democrats Confident They Can Beat Christie in 2016

Monday, 11 Nov 2013 03:56 PM

By Dan Weil

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would clearly represent a formidable foe for the Democrats if he were chosen as the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, given his appeal to moderate and independent voters.

But Democrats say they aren't worried. They say Christie's combative style could come back to bite him, The Hill reports.

Christie, who scored a resounding re-election victory last week, has "a conflict between appearing authentic and becoming unhinged," Steve Elmendorf, who was deputy campaign manager for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, told The Hill.

"People like the fact that he gets angry and yells at people sometimes. But they don’t want their next president to be unhinged."

In the end, however, Christie's stiffest opposition may come from fellow Republicans.

"We’re so frustrated with all this Christie talk, we can't see straight," Scott Hofstra, a major tea party member in Vine Grove, Ky., told The New York Times.

He and his friends don't like it when Christie refers to himself as "a conservative," given some of his moderate positions.

"He's no more conservative than Harry Reid," Hofstra said, referring to the Democratic Senate majority leader.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich doesn't think Christie will be able to convert people like Hofstra to his side — or even wants to.

"I don’t think Chris Christie has any interest in bridging that divide [with conservatives], because he'll run as an aggressive, Northeastern moderate who can get something done," Gingrich told the Times. "I don't see him using conservative language. He might be able to get nominated, but it will be running as a personality leader, not a movement leader."

Meanwhile, Politico reported Monday that political strategists are beginning to depict Christie as "the second coming of Rudy Giuliani." The moderate former mayor of New York City flamed out spectacularly when he ran for president as a Republican in 2008.

"But the parallels only go so far. Christie approaches a potential presidential campaign in a stronger position to appeal to the conservative base. He has the look of a much better national candidate than Giuliani was," Politico said.

One big difference between the two: Giuliani supported abortion rights, Christie doesn't.

"He checks a box that makes — even with whatever issues he might have with the tea party or whatever — it's not as emotional, it's not as sort of irreversible, as the [issues] that I faced," Giuliani told Politico.

Christie also has expressed opposition to gay marriage.

"Rudy never had a credible argument he could make to that element of the base, and frankly, he never tried," David Polyansky, who advised the presidential campaigns of Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, told Politico. "[But Christie] can still talk the talk on life, on marriage and even the Second Amendment."

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