Chris Christie gives good speech. He definitely is a professional at passionately communicating and effectively donning “I’m a regular guy who’s pissed off about what’s going on” attire. In his announcement speech on Tuesday he certainly showed that, but there were two comments he made that are worthy of great concern–and may indicate that he is not ready for battle.
Within the speech, he duly mentioned the issues that most Republicans care about: a politician who remembers for whom he works, an acknowledgement that Washington is lying and stealing from the American people, the need for the federal government to get off the backs of its citizens, lack of economic prosperity, and that our foreign policy is a disaster.
On the other hand, these general statements could have also been made by any of the candidates running in either party.
The major question that must be addressed for Republicans is this: Which candidate will be most likely able to win the war against their Democrat opponent? The candidates the GOP served up during the last two elections were good men but were obviously unable to win the fight. A case could be made that they really didn’t battle at all.
Is Christie willing and able to fight a political war? It seems he fails to understand that there might even be one.
One phrase he used was “reach across the aisle to our friends in the democratic party.” In the current political climate, Republicans should never use that phrase.
Go back and read Hillary Clinton’s speech from 3 weeks ago in New York. In it, she made 5 references to the Republican Party – and the word “friend” was nowhere to be seen. Of these comments, most friend-adjacent use was in the context of “a great debate.”
Her first reference was this statement:
“The Republicans twice cut taxes for the wealthiest, borrowed money from other countries to pay for two wars, and family incomes dropped. You know where we ended up.”
The next was this:
“Now, there may be some new voices in the presidential Republican choir, but they’re all singing the same old song… A song called “Yesterday.” You know the one — all our troubles look as though they’re here to stay… and we need a place to hide away… They believe in yesterday.”
Another reference was this:
“These Republicans trip over themselves promising lower taxes for the wealthy and fewer rules for the biggest corporations without regard for how that will make income inequality even worse. We’ve heard this tune before. And we know how it turns out.”
The fourth comment she made was this:
“I’ll fight back against Republican efforts to disempower and disenfranchise young people, poor people, people with disabilities, and people of color. What part of democracy are they afraid of?”
Is she indicating a desire for making friends or making war? Whether or not she has personal friendships with Republicans is beside the point. For political purposes she is fighting. Hard. There isn’t a hint at any efforts to reach across the aisle.
Whether a consultant told him that it was an important point to make or if he honestly believes that such overtures will make him more likeable or acceptable to the electorate, it makes no difference. The other side is dead set on castigating the GOP and is playing not just to win, but also to annihilate their opposition.
The final reference Clinton made in her speech provides an excellent contrast to the most concerning word Christie used in his entire speech: compromise.
Here’s what she said:
“That’s something I did as Senator and Secretary of State — whether it was working with Republicans to expand health care for children…”
Compromise for Hillary Clinton is getting Republicans on her side. It is not a common-ground discussion. A better word for it would be “winning,” certainly not “compromising.”
As he mentioned, it is true that the founders of our country were forced to compromise. But that was AFTER the decisive defeat of the British. Calls for a negotiated peace in advance of our victory at Yorktown were summarily rejected. A lack of compromising yielded complete surrender. Then and only then, once victory was complete and independence was established, did negotiating between the colonies ultimately birth our Constitutional Republic.
If you expect to be a victorious winner, Governor Christie, stop mentioning reaching across the aisle and a willingness to compromise. Your opponents will be doing neither. The other GOP hopefuls should take note of this as well.