Steve Kornacki warns against underestimating Christie’s chances, but points out the main risk Christie is taking if he runs:
The obvious temptation is to say that Christie would be making a gigantic and potentially career-killing mistake in doing so. After all, he’s not even halfway through his term; if he runs off to seek the White House now, it will arouse cries of home state abandonment — and if he comes back from a losing national campaign with his tail between his legs, it would be difficult, maybe even impossible, for him to win a second term as governor in 2013. In other words, a presidential campaign is probably an all-or-nothing gamble for Christie.
It is tempting to say this, and I have said something very much like it before. Once a governor has secured re-election, he has the opportunity to start thinking about pursuing higher office, and he doesn’t risk as much by launching a presidential bid. One reason there are so few first-term governors nominated by major parties in the last century is that they rarely make the attempt and the parties hardly ever reward them when they do. It would be highly unusual for Christie to seek his party’s nomination, and it would be even more unusual for the GOP to nominate him. If he tried and did not win the nomination, it could sabotage his tenure in New Jersey and derail his future political career.
Something that keeps bothering me about the recent presidential boomlets is the claim that the politicians being drafted owe it to the country to seek the Presidency, and that if they refuse the call they are somehow being too selfish and insufficiently devoted to the public good. As I have said before, candidates for this office are highly ambitious people who are seeking enormous power and prestige, and there is nothing that is particularly selfless about the pursuit of such an office. Christie gave an answer at the Reagan Library the other day that suggests he believes the opposite:
I mean, the fact of the matter is that anybody who has an ego large enough to say, Oh, please. Please, please stop asking me to be the leader of the free world! If you can please just stop! I mean, what kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say please stop?
There is nothing egomaniacal about refusing demands to launch a presidential campaign. It wasn’t egomaniacal for Christie to say earlier in the year that he wasn’t ready to be President. That was modesty. Egomaniacs are the ones who believe they are not only qualified for this office, but that they are also far and away better qualified for it than any of the other available candidates. The people calling on Christie to run have been stroking and massaging his ego in the hopes that he is just egomaniacal enough to give it a try.
Update: Christie will reportedly not make any decisions this weekend, but will keep dragging things out into next week.