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Inevitable GOP nominee insists he’s still in the running

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Inevitable GOP nominee insists he’s still in the running
Some of you with long memories will recall that back in the day there was a governor from New Jersey who was frequently discussed as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. The press followed him around like either puppy dogs or wolves, depending who you ask. His every comment was scrutinized. Anything even slightly resembling a scandal involving his administration was the stuff of national headlines.
Yeah… what ever happened to that guy?
“You see the polls, they don’t give him a lot of encouragement,” said one Republican donor said. “That’s discouraging as heck.
Those figures, coupled with lingering doubts on the right that Christie is conservative enough to be the GOP nominee suggest it’s at least possible the New Jersey governor could decide to avoid a primary defeat where he might suffer a humiliating defeat.
“If you asked me two weeks ago, I’d say, ‘No question — he’s running,’ ” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth’s Polling Institute. “Now I think there’s a bit of a question, and it’s mainly because of the potential for him to be totally embarrassed in those early contests.”
These are donors and media observers saying this though, not the big man himself. If you ask Christie, it’s still full steam ahead.
Christie is still gearing up to launch a campaign later this summer, and will visit New Hampshire next week for his “Tell it like it is” tour…
Privately, Christie is calling donors and asking them not to count him out, according to sources familiar with the calls.
“He is being very clear to people that he is still a serious contender,” said one Republican donor.
Christie will have to compete with Bush, Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), among others, for the mantle of the GOP establishment.
By most accounts, Christie’s fundraising has been lukewarm at best when compared to some of the hot tickets on the GOP side. His poll numbers aren’t doing anything to inspire confidence either. But that’s not enough to sink a determined contender. Assuming he’s still serious about running, Christie’s supporters will want to keep in mind that this race is a marathon, not a sprint. Rick Santorum was essentially a washout in the early stages of the last campaign and he wasn’t exactly cleaning up on donations. But he wound up effectively coming in second by virtue of simply refusing to give up and go home. Obviously Christie would like to think of his chances as something better than being the guy who is too stubborn to leave, but it’s still true.
One problem with that theory is that he fails to fit neatly into either of the two GOP camps. Santorum had the benefit of being squarely on the conservative, Tea Party side of things and positioning himself against the obvious establishment candidate, Mitt Romney. He didn’t need Mitt to drop out… he just had to wait for the rest of the Tea Party choices to fall away. Christie isn’t really a perfectly shaped peg to fit in either of those holes. Conservatives think he’s an establishment guy (a fair enough argument) while Christie himself is usually busy ticking off the GOP party structure and touting himself as the outsider who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
But with all that said, I also think the one label you can stick to the New Jersey Governor is that of a realist. There’s absolutely no reason for him to declare himself out of the game at this point, but absent a formal declaration of running he’s not really in it either. He can keep exploring his options for a while yet. But the one part of the linked analysis which I find compelling is that Christie has too big of an ego to just walk into a bear trap where he’s fairly sure he’ll have his leg taken off. He doesn’t want to go all in only to slink away later with a series of crushing primary defeats. I simply don’t see him as the kind of guy who would risk that sort of humiliating beating.
If I have to read the tea leaves, I think he’ll hang in there, keep hitting up donors and see how far he can press his case in New Hampshire. That’s the one early state he would have to score big in to be taken seriously down the first third of the primaries. If it looks like he’s not gaining ground in the Granite State, I would wager that he’ll bow out by the end of the summer rather than going down in flames later.

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