Mr. Christie’s aides say the governor hasn’t budged from his months-long insistence that he won’t enter the presidential fray, despite what one described as a “relentless” stream of calls over the last week from prominent Republicans urging him to run.
The Christie hype has never made much sense to me, but then I can’t quite understand why so many party elites are in such a panic so late in the year. If enough of them concluded early on that Romney was unacceptable to them, the time for drafting their preferred candidate was six or eight months ago. There has been a steady hum of Ryan and Christie boosterism for the last several months, but it didn’t amount to much publicly until August when it was probably already too late for either of them to organize effectively. What makes this all the more puzzling is that Romney isn’t unacceptable to many party elites, but many of them are acting as if he were. He is “one of them” in many ways, and he would never be in the position he is today had it not been for their (sometimes grudging) acceptance of him four years ago. Party and movement leaders created him as a viable national candidate, and now they seem to regret what they have wrought.
Trying to lure Mitch Daniels into the race always seemed a very half-hearted affair. Unlike speculation for just about every other would-be candidate, Daniels speculation was focused on all the potential “problems” with his candidacy: he talked about a “truce” on social issues, and he wasn’t eagerly promoting more foreign wars. Daniels received all of the scrutiny and criticism that the other would-be candidates such as Ryan and Christie ought to have been receiving all along. Compared to the embarrassing adulation being heaped on Ryan and Christie for much of this year, there was never all that much enthusiasm for a Daniels candidacy, which is quite strange when we consider that Daniels has more credibility as a fiscal conservative than Ryan and has none of Christie’s liabilities. Daniels would have faced criticisms had he joined the race, but I wonder if one reason Daniels chose not to enter the race was that he was encountering so much resistance so early on. Having helped to run Daniels off, party and movement elites are scrambling to find someone, anyone, to fill the gap.