New Jersey Governor Chris Christie answers a question during a campaign event in Manville, New Jersey, Monday, May 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
It is well understood in New Jersey that no one with an instinct for self preservation gets between Governor Chris Christie and a television camera.
Plenty of politicians seek the media spotlight. It’s a smart strategy that yields valuable “free air time” in an era of costly campaigns. And it satisfies the ego.
But Christie’s appetite for the limelight puts other pols to shame.
He’s omnipresent not just in local media but, because of New Jersey’s location—between the powerful New York and Philadelphia media markets—voters in neighboring states may actually know the Garden State governor better than their own chief executives. And Christie keeps going national. As the Newark Star-Ledger recently noted, “He’s eaten doughnuts with David Letterman, crooned with Jimmy Fallon and poked fun at himself on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Now Governor Chris Christie is taking his personality to prime time with an appearance on Michael J. Fox’s upcoming NBC sitcom.”
All that airtime helps a candidate for re-election, and Christie is on the ballot this fall.
But it also helps a prospective candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nod.
Christie’s Democratic challenger in this year’s campaign says the governor is using national appearances to connect with the Republican caucus and primary voters in distant states. “I think that the people of New Jersey deserve more than someone who just has his sights set on the Rose Garden,” complains State Senator Barbara Buono. “I’m focused on the Garden State, that’s the kind of leader they’ll have, not someone who calibrates every decision they make based on how it’ll play in the cornfields of Iowa.”
Nay, nay, says Christie.
Asked about all his national TV time, Christie says he’s actually adjusting New Jersey’s image.
“Christie says when he became governor in 2010 the state’s image was being shaped by the mob drama ‘The Sopranos’ and reality shows ‘Jersey Shore’ and ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey,’ ” reports the Associated Press. “Christie, who has become a national figure in his three years as governor, says people now have a more positive image of the state.”
So there you have it.
Chris Christie isn’t grabbing the national spotlight in order to enhance his re-election prospects and position himself for 2016.
Chris Christie is doing New Jersey a favor.
And if you don’t agree, there’s a pretty good chance the governor will go on national television and call you “stupid.”
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney are the authors of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America (Nation Books). Fomer FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says: “Dollarocracy gets at what’s ailing America better than any other diagnosis I’ve encountered. Plus it prescribes a cure. What else could a reader—or a citizen—ask? To me, it’s the book of the year.”
Is Chris Christie really a moderate Republican?