As a blogger, I’ve joined many of my colleagues in speculating about Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions. Unlike many in the Republican field, Christie is smart enough to know that you don’t just declare yourself as a candidate and go out and give stump speeches. That may work for elections to town council, but becoming the Leader of the Free (?) World requires a little more finesse and planning.
I’ve speculated that there are three signs that would indicate Christie’s readiness to throw his hat into the presidential ring. Not this time around, but in 2016 when the nation is ready to switch parties after eight years of Barack Obama.
The first is weight loss. Like it or not, this is an issue that should not be. But reality says that some voters value appearance more than positions. Dieting to lose weight is difficult, but so is being president. Christie is working on his weight, has a personal trainer, and if his determination is as big as his ego, he will succeed in slimming down over the next four years.
The second indicator of a presidential run is foreign policy experience. So far, Christie has none. Of course, other than Jon Huntsman, none of the other 2012 contenders have any such experience, and Barack Obama’s creds in this area in 2008 were similarly lacking. Maybe what used to be a prerequisite for a potential president is less so now, but look for Christie to participate in trade missions or other overseas endeavors as another sign that he is running in 2016. There are rumors that Christie will not run for re-election as governor in 2013, and that would give him two years to do some international travel and pontificate on foreign policy issues.
The third indicator is promotion of Christie by the GOP. As an avowed non-contender in 2012, he does not pose a threat to the announced candidates. Barack Obama was a little-known senator when he was thrust to national prominence by delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Now, pundits are speculating that Chris Christie will be given the same opportunity in 2012. Christie is as effective an orator as Obama, and if he does deliver the keynote in 2012, that would essentially be the kickoff of his 2016 campaign.
Christie’s biggest fear is that Barack Obama will lose in 2012, leaving the White House door closed until 2020, an eternity in presidential politics. But if one assumes that at least half the voters in America are sane and rational, even though the current crop of Republican contenders are not, Christie’s ambitions will not be fettered. With the backing of his mentor, Karl Rove, if we see the former prosecutor from Mendham following the three steps I’ve outlined, you can be sure he’s already thinking about trading in his New Jersey State Police chopper for Air Force One.