Watching Chris Christie abandon his tough-guy persona

Watching Chris Christie abandon his tough-guy persona
Watching Chris Christie abandon his tough-guy persona
Associated Press

Even those of us outside New Jersey are familiar with the “brand” Gov. Chris Christie (R) has worked so hard to cultivate. He’s a straight-talking tough guy, we’ve been told, who won’t let politics get in the way of telling people uncomfortable truths.

At least, that’s the persona he used to present. Lately, the New Jersey Republican has been something of a wuss.

In a daring political stroke, Gov. Chris Christie is making a strategic pitch to capture the obese vote in New Jersey. The strategy is designed to make fat people mad at state Sen. Barbara Buono by claiming that she poked fun at the governor’s weight.

“For me and for other folks across New Jersey – many folks – who are challenged by their weight, the fact that someone running for governor would make derisive comments about someone’s physical appearance is really beneath the office she is seeking.”

Here’s the problem: Barbara Buono, the governor’s Democratic challenger, didn’t make derisive comments about Christie’s weight. She criticized the governor for spending $25 million in public funds on an ad campaign encouraging tourism for the Jersey Shore, only to make himself the star of the taxpayer-financed commercials during his re-election campaign.

“I don’t know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the Shore,” Buono said.

The point wasn’t about the governor’s size; it was about Chris Christie using post-Sandy relief funds to promote Chris Christie.

This is the guy who’s supposedly cruising to an easy re-election victory?

Christie was asked for his opinion on U.S. policy in Syria, but he ducked the issue. The governor won’t take a stand on the immigration-reform effort underway in Congress, either. Sure, these are federal issues, but Christie tackles Washington stories all the time – just think about how many times he’s condemned “Obamacare.” So why dodge questions about major issues on the public’s mind?

Christie also vetoed a gun-safety measure he asked the legislature to pass because he was afraid of the Republican Party’s base. The governor scheduled a Senate special election for a Wednesday in October because he was afraid to be on the same ballot as Cory Booker.

No Profile in Courage Award for you, gov.

Taken together, it’s become awfully difficult to see the New Jersey Republican as a tough, no-nonsense leader. What do you want to bet his internal polling shows the gubernatorial race getting more competitive, causing Christie to react poorly to the pressure?