Rand Paul is actually in line with the grassroots. The pols inside the Beltway may not see it coming, but the movement of libertarians and Constitutionalists is ascendant within the GOP. A candidate like Christie who describes them as kooky and as wishing more 9/11s on this country is a non-starter.
Paul also has no qualms about actually reducing the size of government. He has gone on the record by saying he will eliminate government agencies like the Department of Education. He even put forth an amendment as a freshman senator which would have cut the budget by $500 Billion.
On the other hand, we have Governor Christie. To his credit, he has been willing to take on the unions. That has been eclipsed in the minds of many conservatives by his troubling lobbying for and acceptance of the $60 billion Sandy Relief Bill, which was larded with pork for special interests. Never at any point could Governor Christie provide detail about where specifically that hefty sum of taxpayer dollars was going to go and how it would be accounted for -- and more to the point, how anyone who claims to be in favor of shrinking the scope of government could support such a legislative monstrosity.
Senator Paul argued for an incremental Sandy Relief Bill incrementally that would have ensured the money was spent responsibly and directly to the people who needed it most. Governor Christie missed an opportunity to show true leadership and stand up to President Obama as well as the big spenders in Congress and ask them to eliminate wasteful appropriations.
So instead he bullied Congress into passing a bill that included $10 million for FBI salaries, roof repairs at the Smithsonian, and $150 million for fisheries -- just to name a few. In all, it is estimated that around $1 of every $20 appropriated from the bill will be spent on pork projects.
People respond to ideas and arguments. Rand Paul has ideas. Chris Christie has gimmicks and a shtick that may win him views on YouTube, but ultimately one that is unsatisfying for millions of Americans tired of big-government Republicanism.