Is Gov. Chris Christie running for president? Clearly. And the New Jersey Republican is also clearly using the playbook of a famous Democratic friend.
Like President Obama before him, Governor Christie “slow jammed" the news Wednesday on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” The news in question was Christie’s controversial and expensive decision last week to call his state’s special Senate election for Oct. 16, just three weeks before the already-scheduled gubernatorial election this November.
Christie deadpanned it beautifully – bobbing his head to the R&B rhythms of the "Late Night" house band, The Roots, as he wonkily explained his decision. And he didn’t crack when Mr. Fallon and the band “analyzed” the move with sexually suggestive language.
But alas, if you’re a Christie fan, he may not have done himself any favors. Yes, he probably impressed a few young voters, an important demographic for a Republican Party desperately trying to get out of its old-white-guy ghetto. But he added life to a story that gives fuel to his eventual opponents for the 2016 GOP nomination.
Republicans roundly rejected his decision to call an election for this fall, rather than appoint a Republican to the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) until the November 2014 midterm elections, which Christie had the right to do. Last Thursday, Christie appointed the state’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Chiesa, to the seat until the special election.
Now, there’s a strong possibility that a Democrat – Newark Mayor Cory Booker – will retake the seat in October. Critics say Christie opted for the separate special election to avoid being on the same ballot with Mayor Booker, even though Christie has a massive lead over his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono.
So it appears he went for the separate election to protect his point spread. And by calling the special election for Oct. 16, instead of Nov. 5, he is costing the state millions of dollars – an affront to fiscal conservatives.
But maybe his biggest sin on “Late Night” was all the sexual innuendo, which we’ll leave to the imagination (and the video). To win the GOP nomination in 2016, Christie needs a decent number of religious conservatives to back him. But he has done little to reach out to them.
On Friday, the annual Faith & Freedom Coalition conference will take place in Washington, and Christie won’t be there. Instead, he’ll be in Chicago, speaking at another event – one with a Democratic hue: a conference of the Clinton Global Initiative.