Memo to the Republican Establishment: keep on using New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a Romney representative … continue to have him weigh in on the issues … if you want Newt Gingrich to win the Republican nomination (which would be a good thing for America) and Barack Obama to win the general election (which would be a very bad thing for America).
You may think that Christie, a tough-talking, mainstream media darling, has a crude, working class appeal that makes up for Romney's image as a polished, private equity-era robber baron; but you're dead wrong. The New Jersey governor comes across like an arrogant New Jersey thug--a character out of The Sopranos, only without Tony Soprano's natural warmth. (Christie is more likely be cast in a TV show or movie as a brutal cop than as a Godfather-like gangster who can be just as effective at spreading the wealth as he is at stealing it.)
You may also think that Christie is better than Gingrich when it comes to representing the legacy of Ronald Reagan. But you're wrong about that, too. The former House Speaker is extremely effective when it comes to both associating himself with Reagan and associating the 40th President of the United States (a) with an economic revival that created millions of jobs, and (b) with a foreign policy that helped bring down the Soviet Union. For Christie, Reagan's finest moment was when he … fired … people. Seriously. Speaking at the Reagan Library last September, Christie had this to say:
Everybody in this room and in countless other rooms across this great country has his or her favorite Reagan story. For me, that story happened thirty years ago, in August 1981. The air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike. President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired.
Finally, fuhgeddabout Christie debating Barack Obama in case you're secretly still considering an 11th-hour contingency plan to draft the Jersey windbag if Romney loses the upcoming Florida primary. Christie would do even worse than Romney in a verbal showdown with Obama. Whereas the former Massachusetts governor is more likely to only seem awkward and hopelessly out of touch with ordinary Americans, unable to connect with their problems (or "challenges," as CEOs and investment bankers like to say), the current New Jersey governor would almost certainly generate sympathy for the President, making him look like a kind-hearted honor student (which he probably was) … maybe even a scholar-athlete … being threatened by a super-sized, schoolyard bully.