If Christie is tarnished, does that impact the GOP's moderation efforts?

Chris Christie, for all his flaws, is a more moderate (sane?) voice within the GOP ranks, and I know that he was expected to make a run for president in 2016. He made another speech today urging Republicans to try to broaden their message.

Obviously, he’s got his own issues now, so let’s just assume for the sake of conversation that he has some trouble putting the bridge scandal behind him and does not end up running for president. (I’m not really interested in talking about Christie himself, but what he represents, so if you have to put an imaginary moderate GOP into this conversation, do that instead.)

Does knocking out a moderating voice like Christie impact a presidential race, for good or ill?

I can see three scenarios:

  1. It does nothing. The candidates are reacting to the voters not each other, and no moderate was going to win anyway.

  2. Not having to react to a moderate message means other candidates can go full on crazy pants.

  3. Not having to distinguish themselves from a moderate message means other candidates can moderate their own message.

Which seems like the most likely outcome, given today’s political climate?

I’d say 1. The angry hard-right wing of the party is never going to be satisfied that one of their own True Conservatives can’t win the WH until they see one get the nomination and lose. Maybe then they’ll moderate just a bit . . . or not . . . but until it happens (or they die off), they won’t shut up or stop trying, every cycle.

“What moderation efforts?” one might ask.

Hey! I came in here to ask that!

To win the Republican primary, you have to either be crazy or simulate crazy. Otherwise you are unacceptable to the Republican primary electorate. Neuro-typical conservatives like John Huntsman not only get walloped (unsurprisingly) they never receive their bump in the polls, unlike Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain.

Christie was one of those rare moderate Republicans who could convince the base that he was bat-shit insane. So he had a reasonable shot at the nomination. Sure, he anti-abortion and he eliminated family planning from the NJ budget in 2012. But he was pro-choice during the 1990s: such flip-flopping makes you a moderate in Republican conceptualizations. On gun control, Christie signed 10 gun bills consistent with NJ sentiments but vetoed 3.

In congress, moderate Republicans are extinct. I can’t make such a strong statements about Governors though and I haven’t examined Christie’s record in detail.


Romney won. He wasn’t crazy or simulated crazy.

He (and earlier McCain) showed pretty quickly that he was willing to toe the line once they started running though. McCain jettesoned his opposition to the Bush tax-cuts and his support for immigration reform, campaign finance reform and (sort of) cap-and-trade. Romney did the same shuffle, but even more so since he had to remake himself to run in 2008, and then again in 2012 as the party went even farther right. Its honestly pretty hard to find a political position of 2006 Romney that 2012 Romney still agreed with.

I have trouble picturing Christie doing the same thing, so I don’t think he would’ve made it through the primaries even without his Bridge-related trouble. The GOP will still go with “electable” moderate candidates, but only if they’re willing to repudiate most of their previous political careers.

You seem to have forgotten the Republican primary of 2012. Romney says he was a severely conservative Governor. I understand they have creams for that. When a debate moderator proposed a budget deal with a 10:1 ratio of budget cuts to tax increases - ten to one! - and asked who would oppose that, Romney’s hand shot up like a rocket.

No tax increases, no how, no way - but oh, we hate budget deficits. They’re bad, you see. The Republican crowd loved it as they understood the subtext: Romney was assuring them that I’m as crazy as you are. Romney surrounded himself with neo-con dead end chickenhawks those who support the use of any kind of military force that they are not participating in. And in case the message wasn’t clear, he rattled the sabres with regards to invading Iran, oblivious to the fact that it has three times the population of Iraq. And naturally, Romney was a big supporter of waterboarding.

Romney was the second time a non-crazy Republican went Crazy For The Primaries and still lost the general election. He’s also the second time the GOP settled, decided not to pick one of the Really Excitingly Crazy Ones, and still lost. You can say “Next time, the Democrats won’t have Obama” but that doesn’t change the demographic shifts which the GOP can’t seem to leverage in their favor. Look with your read-organs:


My point is, this country as a whole is going to go yellow dog Democrat (but not in a racist way) unless and until the GOP can find an exciting candidate who is also not crazy and can also appeal to someone who’s at least as black as Wayne Brady. Picking the Entertainingly Crazy One won’t get them there, but neither will picking the Boring Electable One if the BEO mainly appeals to white folk.

So, my response to the OP: Boring will lose if Boring’s policies don’t appeal to our increasingly non-white culture and I doubt anyone with those policies can win a modern Republican primary. The GOP skews too white and too old. (Oh, uh. Option 1.)

Gotta side with Marley on this one. The GOP is moving to the right and will continue to move to the right. As will the Democrats.

If I’m managing the GOP and I notice that Christie is injured and I have to take him out, I look down the bench for another moderate and who do I see? About the only face I see that isn’t fighting for the right end of the bench is Jeb Bush. Really, who else is there? Maybe I grab the phone and try to talk Romney into another run. I’m not seeing any pressure for any of the tightie righties to moderate their rhetoric, if anything I think with the field so sharply skewed to the right that they’ll be more pressure than ever to out-whack-a-doodle each other. “Oh yeah? Mr. Softie says he wants an anti-abortion bill! Ha! I’ve got a plan to ban illegal immigrant lesbians from asking for abortions in Spanish. Let them ask for it in English, and I’ll turn them down! Then I’ll cut everyone’s taxes, double the military, and declare war on Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and China! We’ll drill, baby, drill, dismantle the EPA, and shoot to kill on the border! Rah rah rah, USA baby!”

There’s still Rudy Giuliani if he ever gets the gumption to actually run again(he keeps on talking about it). Huckabee also occupies some moderate space: while he’s a social conservative, he’s moderate on economic issues. John Huntsman could try again, although I’m not really sure I’d characterize him as a moderate. He’s actually Tea Partyish on most issues other than the environment, but his moderate temperament and lack of partisanship make him appear to be more moderate than he is. I’d also include Condi Rice in this list not because she’s likely to run, but because if she did, she’s suspected of being moderate on most domestic issues. And she’d have a shot at winning the nomination.

Rudy Gi911ani ran probably the worst campaign in memory in 2008. “I’ll just skip everything until Florida. Oh, it’s too late? I’m outta here!” Want someone who can talk your leg off about 9/11? Rudy’s your guy. Otherwise, I just don’t see where he has any broad appeal.

I’ll give Huckabee some props for not being a “screw the poor” conservative. But on abortion rights and gay rights, he’s as far right as anybody. So he’s “moderate” only in terms of not toeing the loony line 100% of the time.

Huntsman is the Republican Governor Moonbeam. Who knows where he stands? WHo cares?

Condi is not a politician and has no appeal to anyone. Would the GOP nominate a black? A female? An unmarried person? Or worse?

Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.

Yeah but he can be refurbished and reprogrammed in time for 2016.

Do people still mention Scott Brown?

You mean the guy who had to disabow his greatest accomplishment, tell an entire race of people to kindly GTFO and called 47% of the country moochers? Romney was a moderate pretending to be insane.

Whew! Reading that, I can feel the testosterone coursing through my veins. Yee hawww!

He does have broad appeal, he just ran a bad campaign, as you said. But he remains a popular figure.

But he’s also another one whose temperament is moderate, as well as some of his positions.

I thought he put forth the boldest plans. What confused people was his lack of partisan hate.

There’s a segment that wouldn’t, but it’s not big enough. We heard the same thing about Mormons. It’s just not going to be that big a deal. And while she herself has no interest in running, a lot of GOP insiders would really like her to do so.

Partisan hate, at least for Obama and his allies, seems to be required in today’s GOP.