Chris Christie was on the stump in New Hampshire for Mitt Romney, who is making his second bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. In 2008, Romney was bested by Granite State favorite John McCain in the New Hampshire primary. McCain went on to win the nomination but lose the Presidency to Barack Obama that November.
The governor of New Jersey, who announced in October that he would not seek the nomination, made an appearance at the Romney campaign headquarters in Manchester. After declining to throw his hat into the ring in October, Christie had endorsed Romney, the former governor of New Hampshire’s neighbor to the south, Massachusetts.
The storefront office, located on Manchester’s main drag, Elm St., a couple doors down from a candy factory, has hosted many political campaigns over the years. Most recently, it served as the local headquarters for former Congressman Paul Hodes’ failed Senate bid.
Two short years ago, when Hodes held a press conference in the very same space that the Romney campaign now called home, the office was festooned with Obama posters. That media event featured Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, as it was Hodes’ belief that the Obama brand still represented political capital. He was wrong.
A victim of the Republican blowout that retook the House and nearly captured the Senate, Hodes – a two term incumbent who had endorsed the future President during the 2008 New Hampshire primary – lost in a landslide to Republican Kelly Ayotte, a political novice. The same wall that once featured the famous blue and white Obama “Hope” posters now bore a hand-made sign declaring “DONE IN ONE”, the “O” in DONE being a facsimile of Obama’s 2008 campaign logo.
The final stop in a two-stop swing through New Hampshire, a robust and ebullient Christie shook hands with local dignitaries before placing a call to Romney, who was preparing for the Republican presidential debate in Rochester, Mich. He then gave a pep talk to the headquarter staffers who were manning the office phone bank before, during and after the media crush.
Christie told the crowd that Romney had solicited his advice during their call, to which he had replied, “From now until November and the next four years, it’s really simple: be yourself.”
He claimed that Romney was the favorite to win New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary because Granite Staters knew him well.
“The reason he’s got so much support up here in New Hampshire is because you got to watch him as governor of Massachusetts. You got to see him as the person he is.”
Evoking his own situation as a Republican governor in a state in which Democrats control both the General Assembly and the Senate, Christie said, “You got to see how he handled executive power in a difficult situation, with the legislature in the hands of the opposite party.”
Tackling head on the issue of Romney’s reputation for waffling, Christie declared that a Republican executive in such situations needed to be nimble “and ready to compromise,” but also needed “to stand up hard for the principles you believe in.”
“He’s ready to do all that,” Christie said before launching into an attack on President Obama as someone who doesn’t know what he stands for, is unwilling to fight for the things be believes in and has failed to bring people together in Washington.
Christie has been touted as a potential vice presidential candidate. If Mitt Romney wins the nomination, naming Christie as his running mate would violate the tradition of achieving geographical balance in a ticket. However, in 1992, Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked Al Gore of neighboring Tennessee as his running mate, creating a regional powerhouse that helped the Democratic ticket win four of the 11 former Confederate states and all five border states, good for 76 votes in the Electoral College.
Before the modern civil rights era, the former Confederacy had been the backbone of the Democratic Party’s “Solid South.” Starting with the 1968 election, the South began migrating to the once-hated party of Abraham Lincoln, which increasingly repudiated its historic commitment to civil rights starting with President Nixon. The Clinton-Gore ticket temporarily reversed that trend, a feat repeated by Barack Obama in 2008 but unlikely to be repeated next year.
A Romney-Christie ticket would make a big appeal in the Northeast and the Rust Belt that have tended to trend Democratic in presidential elections. Christie could help Romney win not only the Garden State, but also neighboring Pennsylvania. The two states which went for Obama in 2008 will represent 34 electoral votes in 2012. Combined with the traditional GOP regions of the South and the West, New Jersey and Pennsylvania may represent the margin of victory for a Republican ticket.