Chris Christie is plunging into what amounts to a cross-country revival tour, looking to recover from a clumsy political scandal and reclaim his place as a promising Republican presidential prospect.Christie isn't directly saying that he's gunning for 2016, but it's obvious that he's using his perch as chairman of the Republican Governors Association to do exactly that. And while the furthest he'll go to confirm his ambitions is to concede that he's "thinking about" running, he rejects the argument that his brusque personality won't serve him well outside of the Northeast:
In one recent week, it was on-the-ground politics in Tennessee and New Mexico. This week, after a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, the New Jersey governor returns to the late night comedy circuit with an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show." Then he'll stop by Mitt Romney's Utah summit, a private event for donors and GOP establishment leaders, and the week after that he heads to Washington to court Christian conservatives at a national gathering of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“I hear people say all the time, ‘Oh you know, you wouldn’t play well in the South, or you wouldn’t play well in Iowa.’ It’s all garbage. People are people,” the Republican governor said Monday on Sports Radio 94WIP Philadelphia. [...] “I would rather lose than try to pretend to be somebody else,” he added.But whether or not Christie's personality has appeal outside of the Northeast isn't his fundamental problem. His fundamental problem is that the bridge scandal exposed his public persona as being total bull. Christie tries to present himself as a no-nonsense tough guy whose only concern is getting stuff done, but the bridge scandal revealed just how political he really is. Even if he didn't directly order the lane closures, he's responsible for creating the culture that led to them, and that culture was all about helping Chris Christie get his next political job, not about doing the right thing as governor.
In the process, Christie's crossover appeal has been decimated: Independents and Democrats no longer see him in the positive light they once did. Christie might still be in the running for the GOP's 2016 nomination, but in the end, that says more about the weakness of the GOP than it does about Chris Christie's strengths, because in the aftermath of the lane closure scandal, he's a flawed candidate.