When Texas governor Rick Perry entered the GOP Presidential race in August 2011, he became the instant favorite amongst many conservatives barely before he uttered a word ---- which may have been the problem. About as fast as one could say the word "Gardasil", as well as enduring sub par debate performances, Perry had fallen out of favor. Once that happened, does anyone recall who many considered a viable conservative alternative to Perry? It was none other than New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
The intrigue behind a Christie candidacy stemmed from the fact he could make tough, sensible fiscal decisions all the while exhibiting a tenacious leadership style that was sorely lacking amongst the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls. At the time, it seemed as though the only declared candidate who was willing to talk tough without fear of consequences was Newt Gingrich. Unfortunately, Gingrich had more baggage than a Delta Airlines carousel, thus severely hindering his prospects.
While I appreciated the pining for a Christie candidacy in 2012, I never understood the rationale that he was to the right of Perry politically. Sure, Christie was able to tackle a $2.2 billion budget deficit without raising taxes (though he vowed to eventually cut taxes once the fiscal house was in order). But lost in a respectable fiscal policy was the fact the Christie was an advocate for New Jersey's tight gun control laws, which includes an assault weapons ban and magazine capacity restrictions. He also supported alternative energy such as wind and solar power, both of which have been an abject failures when there have been attempts to implement them. Christie has also been sucked in to the humans-cause-global-warming bit.
But what really sent some conservatives over the edge was Christie's friendly photo ops with President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Since many of those appearances took place less than a month before the 2012 general election, many felt it undermined Mitt Romney's campaign and thus tilted the election towards Obama. However, I felt it was a stretch that the President of the United States appearing with the NJ governor somehow impacted results in key swing states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida.
With all that in mind, I must admit I was still somewhat surprised when I saw a poll of Christie's latest favorable ratings (via Gallup) amongst Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
I'm not saying Christie is a shoe-in to be the GOP nominee for President in 2016 (though he's all but assured reelection as NJ governor this November). But the idea that today's Republicans are pining for an ideologue doesn't necessarily translate in this latest polling data.
Personally? Let's just say I'm keeping my options wide open.