John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Who Will Fill the Christie Void?

Posted on February 5, 2014
Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone


So, if Chris Christie decides not to run for President, who will fill the void?

I think there are two possibilities.

Christie spoke to two different constituencies.

The big money people saw him as a pragmatic, non-crazy, traditional Reagan conservative who believed that the government had an important, if limited role, in protecting the American people and promoting free enterprise.

As a New Jersey Governor, he is geographically close to Wall Street, but big money contributors all over the country see him as a leader who would protect their interests with common-sense policy.

But another constituency that Christie appealed to was the blue-collar Catholic vote, ethnics who liked that the New Jersey Governor was authentic guys-guy who would fight for their interests.

These are the guys who wore hard hats when the Hippies were storming the streets in the Nixon years.  They were an essential part of Nixon’s silent majority and they were Reagan Democrats who swept the California Governor.

Two of my favorite members of Congress, one from the House and one from the Senate, could plausibly fill the void should Bridgegate knock Christie out of the race.

Rob Portman, who is raising a boatload of money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has the right pedigree and the right experience to ease the fears of business community.

His extensive experience in the White House, in the House, in the Senate, at OMB and as United States Trade Ambassador, will allow him to walk into the Oval Office from day one and take the reigns.

He exudes competence, an attribute that has been sorely overlooked the last 6 years in Washington.

If Portman decides not to run, his former House colleague Peter King, would be an intriguing choice.

King is a street corner conservative, a former boxer at the University of Notre Dame, a political brawler who can take a punch and give a few back.

King fills the huge personality void left behind should Christie decide not to run.

In his tenure as Chairman, King basically put the Homeland Security Committee on the map, fighting every day to protect America from terrorists and from bad policies that would make the country weaker.

King was the first to raise the issue of home-grown Islamic terrorism, and while that didn’t make any friends in the media, it made him a hero to some who worried that the American government was not adequately protecting the people from terrorists.

King is no shrinking violet, and he said in no uncertain terms that shutting the government down would be a stupid strategy for House Republicans to pursue.  He turned out to be right about that.

King has already made five trips to New Hampshire, where he has received a very positive reception.

He is not necessarily starting his campaign for President quite yet, but he certainly wants to shift the debate away from the dangerous isolationism promoted by the libertarian wing of the party, to the more practical and more dependable peace through strength model implemented by King’s hero, Ronald Reagan.

Who will be the national security hawk should Christie depart the stage?  Who would be the street corner conservative, the blue collar hero who tells it like it is, who can appeal to union hard hat workers and to security moms?

Pete King can talk that talk and walk that walk as well as anybody in the field.

We are still a long way from the 2016 election, but the current President is the lamest of lame ducks.   We might as well start talking about the next President now.