(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)
If Republicans are serious about winning the White House in 2016, then they need to rally around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie right now. Although Hillary Clinton has not formally promulgated that she will run for the presidency in 2016, any clear thinking American already knows that she will run. Clinton is a formidable candidate for any of her Republican challengers. At the present time, there’s no candidate who can defeat Clinton save Governor Chris Christie. While Governor Christie may not be as conservative as many ultraconservative Republicans would like, he’s a reliable conservative Republican who can actually win the presidency in 2016. It does Republicans no good to nominate an ultraconservative candidate like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz who has no chance of defeating Hillary Clinton.
Popular conservative pundits like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh need to capitalize on the great opportunity they have to rally Republicans behind the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton. Investing too much time in discourses about whether Governor Christie is conservative enough or a RINO (Republican in Name Only) is fruitless. He has a proven conservative record, even as governor of a blue state. A conservative Republican who can appeal widely to Democrats, Independents and Republicans can win against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
While America is still a fundamentally conservative country, it is becoming less conservative than it was during the Reagan Revolution. The Republican Party, therefore, has to recognize that it cannot fashion itself in the same likeness of the Party of the 1980s. Governor Christie will help to lead the Republican Party in the direction it needs to go to begin winning presidential elections again. Nominating Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Mike Huckabee would evince to the American people that the Republican Party is not ready to embrace the political realities of a post-1980s America. The political milieu President Reagan enjoyed is gone. Being too consumed by nostalgia for the days of Reagan only stifles the progress that’s needed for Republicans to take back the White House.
Although the days of Reagan are long gone, wide support for limited government, personal responsibility, pro-growth policies, low taxes, and local control is still present. Republicans don’t, therefore, have to abandon their core principles to win elections. They simply need to be more flexible on certain issues, including immigration reform, and they must focus less on social issues and have a more compassionate tone on divisive social issues like gay marriage and abortion.
Governor Christie opposes gay marriage and is pro-life. He does not, however, let his positions on those aforementioned issues define who he is. He favors pragmatism over ideology. As Republicans are struggling nationally to get African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters to vote for their candidates, Governor Christie proved that he could get enough of these voters to win the presidency over Hillary Clinton. As a blue state Republican governor, Christie can market himself as someone who has a proven record of reaching across the political aisle to work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to get things done to ameliorate the lives of Americans.
While many Republicans were upset with Governor Christie for working with President Obama to deliver aid to the denizens of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, Christie demonstrated to the nation that he is more concerned with his constituents than playing politics. Independents and some Democrats will be impressed with Christie’s bipartisanship and will reward him with their vote for President. Hillary Clinton is less known for bipartisanship; she’s known nationally for being a reliable liberal Democrat, which makes her more of a polarizing figure than Christie. She has more name recognition than Christie, considering she’s been First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator. President Clinton is still popular nationally, which will benefit his wife. Christie’s national name recognition is constantly increasing, however.
Hillary Clinton will likely have to combat the anger of voters who are displeased with the economic performance of a Democratic President, President Obama. Governor Christie can appear as a reasonable alternative to having another Clinton in office. Yes, Clinton fatigue will help Governor Christie’s campaign for the presidency. Many Americans are fed up with the destructive partisanship in Washington, D.C. When they look at Chris Christie, they know they’re voting for someone who has a record of bipartisanship; a record that offers tremendous hope that Washington, D.C. can once again become a place where meaningful things can get done to improve the lives of the American people.
It was once widely thought that Republicans didn’t have the slightest chance to defeat Hillary Clinton, but too many people were focused on the wrong candidates. The dominant focus should have always been on Governor Christie. The polls are very close between Christie and Clinton, and one poll shows that Governor Christie not only wins against Clinton but also against all other popular potential Democratic candidates.
A Republican blue state governor could be much more attractive to more Americans than a reliable liberal former First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison