Last year, when speculation in the media began about a potential Chris Christie run for president, my initial reaction appears to have been correct…so far. At the time, I told friends and colleagues if the governor began to lose weight that would be a sign he would jump into the GOP presidential primary.
As I was watching the governor deliver his speech at the Reagan Library Tuesday evening on cable television, my wife remarked that Christie looks like he may have gained weight since last year.
The rigors of nonstop cross-country campaign while serving as governor of New Jersey would be a daunting task even for someone in perfect health. The governor’s recent asthma attack and obesity may preclude him from seeking higher office. As the father of four young children, Christie may have decided that his family comes first, and may have concluded that he could play the role of the “voice of reason” within the Republican Party and stay above the political fray of presidential politics.
Nevertheless, there may be another reason Christie is not running for president. After Mario Cuomo was elected governor of New Yorkin 1982, speculation began after President Reagan’s crushing defeat of Walter Mondale’s in 1984 that the Democrats needed him to run in 1988. Cuomo, whose rhetorical skills were unmatched on the national political scene, declined to run for his party’s nomination in 1988 and then again in 1992. Despite his popularity, Mario did not enter the presidential race. Why? Rumors swirled and in the end, Cuomo chose not to seek reelection in 1994 after serving three terms as governor of the Empire State.
Will Governor Christie serve two terms as governor and then become a young “elder statesman” of the GOP and thus short circuit any rumors about his past actions as U.S. Attorney or those of his family while campaigning for president?
However, as I was listening to Christie’s speech, I thought he was going to announce his candidacy in front of Nancy Reagan and the 1,000 attendees at the Reagan Presidential Library. Christie’s blistering attack on President Obama’s leadership seemed like a perfect segue to announcing his presidential candidacy. Instead, Christie told the audience during the Q&A to view his denials of a presidential run in a video posted on Politico.com.
Despite the governor’s health issues and family concerns, would Christie be willing to be drafted at the Republican convention next summer if none of the eight candidates wins enough delegates to capture the nomination? I outlined this scenario on Power and Politics (Channel 12) earlier this year. The calculus for such a development is simple. Christie would not have to campaign now, stay above the political bickering and spend the next 10 months getting into shape for a presidential run. In other words, to quote the great New Jersey philosopher Yogi Berra, “it’s not over till it’s over.”