New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is entering his final week of campaigning for re-election with high expectations for a landslide victory, but his larger goal is to show the Republican Party that it can broaden its appeal nationally to attract more moderate or left-leaning voters, The Wall Street Journal reports
Political strategists predict that if Christie pulls a substantial amount of votes in Tuesday's election from non-traditional groups, such as Hispanics and women, it would defy the current view among many within the GOP that moderate party members are no longer viable GOP presidential contenders. If he's successful, the governor, decried by some in the party as a Republican in name only, would likely have a front position at the start of the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
"Christie should have a strong case starting next week that his appeal among all types of Americans establishes him as an instant Republican front-runner for 2016, should he decide to run," Frank Malek, a longtime GOP adviser, told the Journal.
Christie has focused on building relationships with minority voters and non-Republican supporters during his first term as governor in New Jersey. Notably, a seven-day bus tour this week saw him visit a number of diverse communities.
His attempts to reach out to core Democratic groups on a national level, however, may not go down well with more conservative GOP voters in other parts of the country, the Journal reports. Nonetheless, he has already begun to amass a significant national donor base.
"The electability argument in primaries never has as much salience as a lot of people think," Steve Bogden, a former adviser to the presidential campaign of onetime Republican candidate Jon Huntsman, told the Journal.
Christie has already piled up a number of successes
that demonstrate his national popularity.
That could help him as he stumps for support in the Republican primaries against what is expected to be a much more conservative slate of challengers. For example, he won widespread praise for his response to Hurricane Sandy a year ago. His vocal criticism of Washington conservatives for their role in the unpopular government shutdown has also helped his standing with many in and outside the party.
The true hallmark of his re-election bid, however, has been a focus on recruiting support from traditional Democratic constituencies, the Journal noted. He has already demonstrated tangible success in the polls with Hispanics and blacks.
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