Christie at CPAC: The Ol’ Murder-Suicide Scenario?

I admit that I don’t think enough of Chris Christie as a presidential prospect to have spent a lot of time thinking about what he might say at CPAC. But what the hell: he’s won two more gubernatorial elections than Gail Collins or I have won, so we probably should not write him off entirely.

Still, I don’t find the tack he took at CPAC all that promising (as reported by Bloomberg Politics‘ Margaret Talev):

Pointedly criticizing his chief rival, Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie portrayed himself as a Washington outsider who won’t buckle to criticism from the media, and as a man who is unafraid to say what he thinks is right.

Bush is “definitely the frontrunner” if “the elites in Washington” who make “backroom deals” decide the nomination, Christie told the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday in National Harbor, Md. “If the people of the United States decide to pick the next president of the United States and they want someone who looks at them in the eye, connects with them and is one of them, I’ll do OK,” Christie added.

None of this is terribly surprising, since (a) Jeb Bush stands directly in the path of Christie’s nomination, with most of Christie’s potential donors in his pocket, and (b) playing off conservative hostility to Bush may be the easiest way for Christie to curry favor with them. But on the other hand, this ploy, if he continues it, carries a high risk of turning into a political murder-suicide. Christie’s approval ratios among Republicans and in the general electorate are already far underwater. Bush’s aren’t enormously better. The most likely beneficiary of any major assault on Bush by Christie is probably going to be somebody else, perhaps Marco Rubio, the one figure beloved of many Establishment folk who’s actually improved his popularity of late.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.