Now that the returns are in, Chris Christie must be resting even easier as he stands tall in the runty Republican field of 2016 contenders among the likes of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
One thing is sure: He will be the favorite of what Tea Party types like to call RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) or, translated into more traditional language, Republicans who have not sold their souls to the crazy wing of the party.
At the moment, he looks like another Mitt Romney, the fallback candidate after the zealouts have blown themselves out in bitter primaries as they did for 2012.
Yet Christie is no Romney. At heart a conservative Republican, he may appeal to Independents as both more outspoken and authentic, and he is much less likely to flip-flop on a daily basis, as Mitt did.
Verdict of the Daily Beast reads: “Bottom line: On Tuesday night, Christie went a long way toward establishing himself as the Republican Bill Clinton, a charismatic candidate able to re-center his party and reach out beyond the base even in traditionally hostile territory. Hard-core conservatives might call him a RINO...but there’s another name for it. A winner.”
Maybe, but after running the primary gauntlet, Christie will have to keep shedding his past, literally and figuratively, to measure up to Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or any other Democrat running against him carrying the accumulated weight of the Obama years.
“I’m slower than I was when I was 40,” the 51-year-old Christie now says. “But that’s the slow march of time. No, I don’t have any problem handling the rigors.”
In 2015, after opponents in both parties starting taking apart his actual record in New Jersey, that should be low on his list of problems in a race to the White House.