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February 18th, 2011

Could Chris Christie Win in Iowa?

By Kevin Hall

Everyone believes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should run for President.   Everyone, it seems, except Chris Christie.  The accolades span the political spectrum.  Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter says, “If we don’t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we’ll lose.”  Liberal columnist Eleanor Clift calls him a GOP star “who can hold the party’s base and yet appeal to a broader swath of the electorate.”  Politico.com put together a bipartisan panel of political experts that decided, “Chris Christie’s moment is now.”  The consensus from the national pundits is unanimous.  Christie should run and could win.

During every interview he gives, someone inevitably asks Christie about running for President.   His answer is always the same.  No.  He is not ready and he is not running.  However, the “Draft Christie” movement continues to gain steam.  His masterful speech in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, focusing heavily on national issues, raised the chatter that Christie should seize the day.  These kinds of opportunities rarely come twice.

People find Chris Christie’s straight talking, no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is style very appealing.  His verbal smackdowns of the New Jersey teachers’ union and various liberals during town hall events are YouTube sensations.  He tackles issues other politicians are afraid to talk about.  The New Jersey Governor fits in perfectly in the Tea Party age.

So, how would that style translate to the Iowa Caucus?  If the reception he received at a speech in West Des Moines last year is any indication, the answer is, very well.  Governor Terry Branstad said Christie’s visit resulted in the most successful fundraiser he has ever held.  That spans a lot of ground.  Branstad also called Christie the most effective communicator in the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan.

Christie’s biggest hurdle in Iowa would come from the social conservative base that makes up a large contingent of caucus goers.  Christie focuses almost exclusively on fiscal issues.   Some of his social stances might not be strong enough for Iowa evangelicals.

The New Jersey Governor says he is pro-life, but he told the New Jersey Star-Ledger he would not use his office to try to “force that down people’s throats.”  Christie also supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but he would veto any bill legalizing same-sex marriage.  He also believes illegal immigrants are not criminals.  Those stances could alienate some.

Jacob Hall, 27, a social conservative from Sioux Center, said he would not vote for Christie in the Iowa Caucus.  “I just don’t budge on certain issues-abortion and gay marriage and immigration,” Hall said.  “I appreciate Christie’s honesty and tough talk.  I think he’d be a good choice for VP with the right presidential candidate, but I’m skeptical of him not willing to do more as governor to outlaw abortion.”

State Central Committee member and former Mitt Romney staffer Tim Moran agrees that social issues could be troubling for Christie in Iowa.  “If Chris Christie ran, I think he could be one of three people to punch his ticket out of Iowa,” Moran said.  “But I would need to see where he’s going to lead on the social issues.  If he made judges or life one of his top two issues, he could light a lot of fires.”

Christie’s appeal would span various demographics and segments of the GOP base.  Social conservatives would create Christie’s biggest stumbling block, but he could gain widespread support from Iowa’s Tea Party segment, libertarians and fiscal conservatives.

Sandy Blodgett, a longtime activist and wife of a former state legislator from Clear Lake, believes Christie’s approach would resonate with Iowans.  “Governor Christie continues to inspire all who believe in lower taxes, cutting runaway spending, and outmaneuvering liberals as he works to tame Big Government,” Blodgett said.  “Chris Christie provides effective, genuine, Reaganite leadership 24/7.”

“I would support Chris Christie if he ran,” said Drake University student and College Republicans member Jordan Grant, 19.  “He has that down to earth approach that everyone can relate to. “

Bob Haus, a longtime GOP strategist, believes Christie would have a legitimate shot at winning the Iowa Caucus.  “His kind of open and honest approach to the fiscal mess some of the states, and the country, have gotten into is exactly what people want to hear,” Haus said.  “He’s smart.  He’s articulate.  He’s direct.  The Chris Christie brand of leadership is exactly what we need.”

“From what I know, I support Christie 100 percent,” said former Story County GOP chairman Heath Hill.  “I think he’s too straight forward to win in 9 out of 10 years, but maybe this is the one year that we cut the crap and actually nominate and elect someone who speaks the truth and doesn’t try to appease everyone.”

Above all, the one quality Chris Christie possesses over the current crop of presidential candidates is the ability to inspire people.  Right now, the Iowa GOP base seems uninspired about its choices.  Chris Christie would change that for many people.  Too bad he is not running.  Could Chris Christie win in Iowa?  You bet he could.

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About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.




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