A Tale of Two Campaigns
Veterans Group Launches Campaign to Make Our Heroes’ Voices Heard in 2024 Election
Latest Attacks on DeSantis From the Trump Team Underscores a Potentially Serious Long-Term...
AOC Parody Account Is Dead, But Now Kamala Harris Has One
Fallout Continues Within CNN After Devastating Profile of Embattled CEO
This 2024 GOP Candidate Would Not Implement a Transgender Ban in the Military
Just A Quick Question For You (And Other Fundraising Scams)
Want to Save the Planet? Stick to Eating Meat
Incoming Twitter CEO Brings Former NBCUniversal Colleague With Her
There Are Now Questions About Trump Participating in First GOP Primary Debate After...
California Officials Say Florida Orchestrated an Illegal Immigrant Flight to Sacramento
New Data on Younger Voters Is Fascinating
Floyd Brown’s New Book Takes a ‘Counterpunch’ at the Left’s Dismantling of Society
Montenegro Won’t Free Itself From Crime Through Crypto
The Human Side of LGBTQ Pride and the Predicament It Causes for Loving...

Amid 2012 Race, Lots of Politicking for Next Time

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

South Carolina is not a swing state. Solidly Republican, it will vote for Mitt Romney by a large margin this November. With so many other states hanging in the balance, Team Romney doesn't need to spend any time campaigning in South Carolina.

So why would Gov. Chris Christie, a top Romney supporter and surrogate as well as the GOP convention's keynote speaker, take time out of an extremely busy schedule to visit the South Carolina delegation at the Republican convention in Tampa? It wasn't easy; the delegates stayed in a hotel far, far away from the GOP gathering site downtown. But Christie made the trek.

The answer might have something to do with the fact that South Carolina is a hugely important state in the early presidential primaries. “We pick presidents,” South Carolina Republicans like to say, and indeed, with the exception of Newt Gingrich this year, every winner of their primary has gone on to capture the GOP nomination.

So when a national politician visits South Carolinians, that visit usually has “presidential ambition” written all over it. And Christie's convention-week appearance certainly felt like a full-scale campaign stop.

Beyond discussing issues at stake in the election and his own experience as keynote speaker, Christie talked openly about strengthening his connections to this key early state.

“I've enjoyed all the time I've spent in South Carolina,” he told the group, which included delegates, members of Congress and top state politicos. “And I intend to be back, even do a town hall meeting in South Carolina. Bring the Christie town halls on the road.” As the crowd applauded, Christie said the press back home – “so parochial,” he called them -- can't grasp how South Carolinians could embrace a guy from New Jersey. It's not hard, Christie explained: “Ideas are more powerful than geography.”

Christie charmed the crowd when he told a funny, self-effacing story about the day last October when Mitt and Ann Romney came to his house to ask for his endorsement in the Republican race. When he got the call, Christie said he and his wife, working parents with four children, looked at each other in panic; their first thought was, “Oh my God, we've got to clean this house.”

Christie spoke at length, describing how his 12-year-old son, on in-line skates, zoomed up to Romney and screeched to a halt about a foot before running into the soon-to-be GOP nominee. It was the kind of personal tale, told with humor and warmth, that can really win a room. And it did.

In an interview afterward, Christie denied the visit had anything to do with political ambitions. “No,” he said. “It's about who invited me. I got an invitation.”

But Christie gets lots of invitations. Why pick this one? “People will speculate about my career for as long as I'm around,” Christie answered. “No matter how many times I told people I wasn't running for president, nobody believed me. I wasn't. As many times as I told people I didn't want to be vice president, they didn't believe me. I didn't want to be. People will speculate all they like, but for me, what's most important is what you actually do, and I've worked very hard for Gov. Romney, I have great faith in him, I consider him a great friend, and I think he's going to be the next president.”

There was nothing in that answer to deny any designs on higher office.

Future GOP hopefuls are walking a fine line. Preparing a 2016 run would mean assuming Romney loses. That can't be done, at least publicly. So hopefuls work for the ticket and lay the foundation for 2020. Of course, if Romney does lose, they'll be ready for '16.

“This is one of the few places you can network and start laying the groundwork for whatever happens later on,” says Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina party chairman who attended the breakfast. “We certainly expect and anticipate that Gov. Romney will be the next president, and we're all going to work very hard. But I've never seen a politician miss a chance to come into an audience that is an early primary state, and not put those feelers out.”

Christie wasn't the only up-and-comer to pay his respects to South Carolina. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also visited the delegates during the convention. And South Carolina wasn't the only state to receive attention. Christie's schedule also included a visit to -- of all places -- the New Hampshire delegation.

The 2012 finale may still be two months away, but 2016 and 2020 are already here.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member


Trending on Townhall Video