New Jersey's Christie Discounts a Run in 2012

Since becoming Governor of the Garden State, Chris Christie has garnered the praise of conservatives for his "blunt" talk that included calling New Jersey "a failed state." His pledges to bring about ""smaller government that lives within its means" in Trenton-- and to do so without tax increases, declaring "I was not sent here to approve tax increases, I was sent here to veto them" led to laudatory reviews beginning back in April by Bill McGurn in the Wall Street Journal who went so far that Christie was reviving "Reagan Republicanism -- Jersey style." And John Fund also in the Wall Street Journal noted back in May that conservatives "were impressed by a rare chief executive willing to tackle his state intractable problems in an unapologetic manner." Fund was especially pleased that Christie was taking on the "malign influence of the New Jersey Education Association" which Christie has described as "an absolutely out-of-control union that is used to getting everything it wants." And bonus points were awarded for comparing New Jersey to debt-ridden Greece. Others who have written celebratory pieces include George Will and Marc Thiessen.

Still it is McGurn's original piece from back in April in the Journal that perhaps best captures the "blunt talk" from Christie that has conservatives aglow over the New Jersey Governor. Here are a few examples that McGurn had culled from Governor Christie's budget address, public meetings and radio appearances:


The children will be the ones to suffer from your education cuts. "The real question is, who's for the kids, and who's for their raises? This isn't about the kids. Let's dispense with that portion of the argument. Don't let them tell you that ever again while they are reaching into your pockets."

Your policies favor the rich. "We have the worst unemployment in the region and the highest taxes in America, and that's no coincidence."

Why not renew the 'millionaire's tax'? "The top 1% of taxpayers in New Jersey pay 40% of the income tax. In addition, we've got a situation where that tax applies to small businesses. I'm simply not going to put my foot on the back of the neck of small business while I want them to try to grow jobs by giving more revenue to New Jersey."

Budget cuts are unfair. "The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word—which, coincidentally, is my 9-year-old son's favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—'unfair.' . . . One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life, and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits—a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?"

State budget cuts only shift the pain to our towns. "[L]et's remember this, in 2009 the private sector in New Jersey lost 121,000 jobs. In 2009, municipalities and school boards added 11,300 jobs. Now that's just outrageous. And they're going to have to start to lay some people off, not continue to hire at the pace they hired in 2009 in the middle of a recession."

Isn't your talk of 'stopping the tax madness' just another 'Read My Lips' promise? "[Mine is] much better than 'Read my lips.' I'm sorry, it's just much better. Much stronger. . . . It's gonna be how my governorship will rise or fall. I'm not signing a tax increase."

 

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Under Pressure, NY Governor Paterson to Bow Out

New York Governor David Paterson will drop his bid for election to a full term. Governor Paterson had come under increasing pressure after the New York Times revealed that the Governor had interfered with a domestic-violence case involving David Johnson, one of his of top aides.

The story in the New York Times:

Gov. David A. Paterson is set to announce that he will not seek election in the wake of reports that he and the State Police intervened in a domestic-assault case against a senior aide, according to a person told about the plans.

He is expected to make the announcement this afternoon.

It would follow a tumultuous Thursday in which, following revelations about the governor’s involvement in the abuse case, many of his political allies suggested he stand down form his bid to be elected. In a brief press availability late in the day, the governor said he would stay in the race, but that he would also seek counsel from other Democrats about how to proceed with his political future.

The state awoke on Friday to calls for the governor’s resignation from newspaper editorial writers, which only added to the increasing belief that it would be impossible for him to run the state and a campaign while the abuse case, and its handling by both he and the state police, is under investigation. He has asked the state’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, an assumed political rival for the governorship, to investigate the case.

The end of Mr. Paterson’s campaign came less than a week after he formally began it, with a defiant speech at Hofstra University in Hempstead in which he cast himself as an underdog who would fight for ordinary New Yorkers against Albany special interests.

The New York Daily News in its editorial today called for Paterson to step down immediately.

Mitch Daniels of Indiana Mulls 2012 Run

I've noted this before but I believe that Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana will run and that he will make a formidable candidate. The Washington Post has the skinny on the latest Daniels watch:

Two months ago, in an interview in his state capitol office, Daniels said explicitly he was not interested in running for president and dismissed speculation that he might be a candidate. That has now changed. During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.

Daniels said he has had a number of conversations in recent months -- "none initiated by me" -- where the question of a 2012 campaign came up. "Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea," he said.

Among the people he has talked with is former president George W. Bush, though Daniels said it was not that conversation per se that tipped him to reopen a door he had seemingly closed.

Daniels served as Bush's director of the Office of Management and Budget before returning to Indiana to run for office and was White House political director under former president Ronald Reagan. He won a landslide reelection victory in 2008 at the same time that President Obama was carrying Indiana in the presidential race.

Early in his tenure as governor, Daniels angered conservatives when he proposed raising taxes to help balance the state budget. Since then, however, he has become a favorite of fiscal hawks for the way he has run his state. Though conservative on social issues, Daniels has not made them a focal point of his political agenda.

In the aftermath of the party's defeats in 2006 and 2008, Daniels was critical of the Republican Party for having abandoned its principles. He warned that Republicans would have to "spend time in the penalty box" and earn back the public's trust before they would be returned to power. He also warned against complacency in the battle for ideas.

Of the names being bantered about as possible GOP nominees, this one and Jon Huntsman of Utah are the ones that I perceive as the ones that could give the President the toughest races. With Huntsman ensconced in Beijing, he is not likely a candidate in 2012. There are those who think Senator John Thune of South Dakota might make a strong candidate but I suspect that being a Washington player will work against him. Thus really the stronger contenders for the GOP nomination are likely to come from the Governor's mansions: Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (though he is now living in La Jolla, California), Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Of these four, I'd argue that Daniels is likely to have the greatest appeal to independents. More from the Post:

Daniels acknowledged that the solutions to the problems of debt and deficits could involve sacrifices that would make the messenger unpopular. He admitted that making those problems the focal point of a Republican campaign could impede a potential comeback by the party. But he said he has become convinced that the issues will have to be raised in any case.

Despite the on-going war in Afghanistan, the 2012 election is likely to pivot on domestic issues primarily jobs and the deficit. The fact that Daniels is willing to assume the risk of being "an unpopular messenger" I think differentiates him from the rest of the GOP pack and will win him a wider base of support among moderate Republicans and independents. Gary Johnson is another who is willing to tackle an "unpopular" topics offering a differentiated view but I'm not convinced that a libertarian candidate is capable of winning outside the West.

The Rise of Donald Trump

I've tried to avoid writing about Donald Trump but that has become increasingly harder to do as his numbers climb in the polls, numbers matched perhaps only by the sheer madness of it all. With a new poll out today from Public Policy Polling (PPP) now showing the irascible tycoon with a nine point lead over his nearest would be rival, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Trump's rise in the polls is impossible to ignore.

Still in looking at the PPP poll, Trump's lead isn't what surprises me the most but more on that in a moment. Trump has a name recognition advantage over his rivals for one and the media-craven self-annointed maven has over the past few weeks benefitted from appearances on The View, the Today Show not mention just about every time slot on Fox News as well as from rather public feuds with Gail Collins of the New York Times and Juli Weiner of Vanity Fair

Each of these episodes have, in turn, had a multiplier effect with each new outrageous statement being assiduously rebroadcast across every medium imaginable. Never one to shy from publicity, Donald Trump has basked in the glory of his own self-adulation reveling in every word uttered by admirers and detractors alike. There is no greater cause to Donald Trump than Donald Trump and in his mind there is no such thing as bad publicity even as he writes his own political obituary. 

The question now is whether this rise in the polls will lead our narcissist-in-chief to put his money where his mouth is and actually run for commander-in-chief. Stay tuned. If he does run, Donald Trump will convert the Greek tragedy that is today's GOP Presidential field into a full blown Roman farce.

The PPP numbers in all their farcical proportions:

Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump's ridden the controversy about Barack Obama's place of birth to the highest level of support we've found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.

Trump's broken the perpetual gridlock we've found at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.

The number that jumps out at me is that 23 percent of Republican primary voters are only willing to vote for a birther. That's just insane but it speaks to level of insanity that has beset the GOP. What began as a fringe theory pushed by avowed racists which certain elements in the GOP chose to countenance for their short-term political gain now threatens to drive the Republican party off a cliff causing long-term political damage.

That 23 percent number is not only bound to keep Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty up at night but also Karl Rove and Reince Priebus. It would be nice to think that this is only a GOP nightmare developing but frankly it doesn't serve the country to have a quarter of Republican voters to be so profoundly delusional.

Still, I've had the misfortune of actually listening through some of these interviews and it's not difficult to see why Trump appeals in these uncertain times. He's not much for subtlety or nuance. In a country that has always been looking for the next Teddy Roosevelt to charge up Capitol Hill and take no prisoners, Trump plays to the under-educated, over-zealous, often xenophobic hyper-nationalist crowd. He is unapologetically the voice of the America First crowd.

His economic creed is that of right-wing populist that plays on the fears of a working class that has seen their living standards decimated by globalization and free trade deals gone awry. On Libya, he's only interested in removing Qaddafi if we can grab their oil. On Iraq and Iran, he is just as blunt suggesting on his brand new “Mondays with Trump” segment of Fox & Friends that American soldiers will have died in vain if we leave Iraq and let Iran go and take the oil fields.

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