Christie Facing Hurdles to Presidential Bid

Friday, 30 Sep 2011 10:39 AM

By Dan Weil

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While enthusiasm for a presidential run by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has soared in many Republican circles, he would face some serious obstacles should he decide to join the fray. Politico has amassed a list of them.

For starters, given the likelihood that early primary/caucus states are likely to advance their elections to January, Christie would quickly have to figure out how to get on the ballot in many states and where to focus his resources.

Here’s Politico’s list of four main areas for concern:

1. Organization

“Who answers the phones, who creates a website, who gets you on the ballot? It’s all those little things that even when you have months and months to ramp up can be complicated,” said a veteran GOP operative. “Even if the candidate is ready, there are logistical issues that need to catch up with him. And you don’t have a month and a half to get it right.”

Christie has a cast of loyal advisers, but it’s not a campaign team ready to hit the ground running like Texas Gov. Rick Perry had when he entered the race Aug. 13. Perry had spent more time contemplating a run, giving him more time to form his campaign structure.

So Christie would quickly have to create both his national campaign operations and to staff state-by-state campaigns. On the plus side, attracting staff might not be difficult, given the tide of support rolling his way.

Campaign officials would have plenty of work to do to get Christie’s name on ballots. In Vermont, for example, it takes a filing fee and signatures from 1,000 registered voters.

Christie’s organization also will have to be ready for the inevitable attacks from other candidates.

2. Strategy

Christie won’t have much time to decide the states where he can best compete.

Iowa has shown him some love, but New Hampshire, located in the Northeast with a fiscally conservative bent, might give him a better start. After that it’s a crap shoot. One Republican strategist sees Christie with “a window in every early state.” He also thrives in the town hall settings common in the early states.

But another strategist said Christie doesn’t have a single state where he starts with an advantage, like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and Perry in South Carolina.

3. Policy and Schedule

Christie hasn’t yet dealt with foreign policy and many national issues, so he’d have to get up to speed in those areas quickly. More debates are coming soon.

And he’ll have to figure out how to budget his time. “There will be people pushing him to get out on the stump more, others pushing for more finance events, and still others trying to pull him behind closed doors for policy briefings and debate prep,” said GOP consultant Todd Harris, who worked for Fred Thompson, a late entrant in the 2008 race.

“And you pretty much have to say yes to all of them. It’s definitely doable, but it’s a hell of a lot of work in a short period of time.”

4. Money

Here Christie supporters aren’t worried. “This is not going to be a problem,” said a donor knowledgeable about Christie’s meetings with money men. “There’s just so much money on the sidelines.”

Many big names are ready to jump in and help, including Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, discount brokerage king Charles Schwab, and hedge fund heavy Paul Singer.

A super PAC could immediately be created to raise an unlimited amount of money to support his bid. Christie has plenty of supporters in the big money states of New York and California.


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