The Rise of Chris Christie, Governor Wrecking Ball
This profile was first published at TheNation.com
From National Review, which ran an August cover story designating him the “Scourge of Trenton,” to conservative bloggers electrified by his boisterous YouTube clips, just about every relevant Republican constituency has found something to be taken with in Chris Christie. Policy analysts in Washington appear just as enthralled by his critique of public pensions as are the familiar talk-radio personalities. “Ladies and gentlemen, is it wrong to love another man?” Rush Limbaugh asked one afternoon. “Because I love Chris Christie.”
In a feat of strategic jujitsu, Christie has managed to tread a tenuous ideological line between Beltway Republicans and the Tea Party, endorsing Mike Castle over Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican senatorial primary. The calculation implied that although he clearly welcomes its support, Christie is not tethered to the Tea Party’s every whim; meanwhile, the Republican National Committee was happy to shuttle him around the country on behalf of various candidates this election cycle. Even among social conservatives, to whom Christie does not often pander, he has amassed impressive credentials: Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, lauded “the victory of a pro-life, pro-marriage GOP governor in New Jersey” last year after Christie vowed to veto a same-sex marriage bill. This ubiquitous adoration suggests that should rumored presidential aspirations materialize, he may be able to unite the party’s balkanized base.