New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at a town hall meeting, March 17, 2015, in Freehold, NJ.
Photo by Mel Evans/AP

Christie tries to recapture discarded persona

It’s not yet clear when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will launch his presidential campaign, but we’re getting a good sense of the kind of message he’ll push once he officially kicks off his race for national office.
Yesterday, the Republican governor published a series of social-media messages boasting about how great his no-nonsense persona really is. “What you see is what you get,” Christie said at one point, adding, “[B]eing ‘vanilla’ just isn’t me.”
This comes on the heels of a town-hall meeting this week in which one of the New Jersey governor’s constituents suggested he maybe “tone it down a little bit if you want to become president of the United States.” reported that Christie said he appreciated the suggestion, but he has no interest in adopting a more presidential temperament.
“There are some people who just believe that if you’re a public figure that they’re allowed to be rude, that they can say and do anything to you and that because you’re a public figure you have to respond nicely,” Christie said. “I don’t see it that way.”
People deserve politicians who are willing to be straight with their constituents, Christie argued.
“When I think that I’ve said something that’s over the line, I’ll apologize,” he said. “But the one thing people never have to wonder about me is what I’m thinking.”
It’s a curious pitch. Christie, who earned a reputation for bullying after a wide variety of unpleasant confrontations with voters who annoyed him, seems to think he can reach the White House in part through sheer, brash force. In the modern era, this has rarely been a model for electoral success.
But just as important is the fact that Christie leaves people wondering “what he’s thinking” all the time.
If Christie really were a no-nonsense, straight-talking, truth-telling candidate, who throws caution to the wind and takes bold positions without regard for consequences, we could at least have an honest conversation about the efficacy of his style.
But Christie has spent quite a bit of time lately dodging questions, fearing political blowback that might undermine his ambitions.
In fact, we talked about this just last week:
Asked for his take on the Eric Garner story, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about immigration policy, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about U.S. efforts to combat ISIS in Syria, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, at least at first, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.

Asked about Bush-era torture policies, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.
He’s even taken pride in his ability to dodge questions, saying it’s the mark of “a good leader.”
It seems the New Jersey Republican now wants to reclaim the persona he discarded. Isn’t it a little late for that?