Scott Galupo observes that Christie’s habit of berating easy targets won’t work very well in a national election, because there are fewer easy targets available:
If Christie is a wise and disciplined campaigner, I find it hard to believe he’d do any of those things. And given his recent disparagement of the GOP’s “libertarian strain” in the context of the debate over the national security state, I can’t see Christie getting up in the grill of a Pentagon contractor, either.
Scott is right about this, which suggests that a Christie presidential campaign would involve a lot of vague railing against Washington and political dysfunction without identifying any of the things that need to be changed. As Noah Millman notes, Christie is mostly just a generic Republican unlikely to challenge the party on any major issues, which reinforces my point from yesterday that he isn’t going to be a “new” kind of Republican. When he disagrees with most conservatives on a major issue (e.g., immigration), he is usually adopting the same position that Bush held while in office. I doubt that many voters are all that interested in a return to Bushism that is delivered through angry putdowns.
That still leaves the question of whether Christie’s general combativeness will work very well during the nomination contest in other parts of the country. David Harsanyi says that attack “is his default position when challenged,” but it seems more accurate to say that it is just his default position. Jonathan Chait makes a fair point that this doesn’t hurt Christie among Republicans when the targets of his ire are teachers’ unions or public-sector employees, but it easily could make him hated inside his own party if he directs his attacks against Republican competitors. He’s already shown in his spat with Rand Paul how clumsy and tone-deaf he can be when talking about national issues, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he manages to alienate a large portion of the Republican primary electorate between now and the start of voting in 2016.