Why do the media hype Chris Christie more than Ben Carson as a presidential possibility?

Political numbers-cruncher Sam Wang (above) of the Princeton Election Consortium raises an interesting question about several of the prospective candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Citing a recent CBS poll showing that Republicans are far more strongly in favor of surgeon Ben Carson running for president than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wang ASKS: “[W]hy are reporters covering Christie and not, say, Ben Carson?” Why, indeed? The answer, of course, is that too many political pundits know too little about the American people.  ...

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Don’t bet on Chris Christie ever becoming president

Television pictures of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during an NFL playoff game the other day have prompted lots of speculation on whether such images might affect Christie’s chances of winning a presidential election. It’s a silly question. In the long run, it matters not whether Christie is a Cowboys fan. Yes, many of his New Jersey constituents may resent his affection for a Texas football team. And yes, his dealings with Jones may raise some ethical questions. But there are other reasons why Christie’s prospects for becoming president are not exactly rosy. Nate Silver EXPLAINS: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the second most likely Republican presidential nominee after Rand Paul. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato lists Christie as one of the top four candidates, along with Paul, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. And the betting market BetFair had Christie as the fourth most likely as of midmorning Tuesday. These assessments seem much too bullish; Christie has three fundamental problems that are likely to prevent him from becoming the GOP’s candidate. It might be possible to overcome any one of these, but two is very difficult and three is almost impossible: He’s probably too moderate… He probably lacks the discipline to win the “invisible primary.”… He no longer has a good “electability” case.      ...

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Former aide says he gave Christie prior notice of plan for bridge foul-up

Uh-oh! Just when some people were beginning to think Chris Christie might survive the bridge scandal after all, a BOMBSHELL EXPLODES: On Dec. 13, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told the press that no one on his senior staff had prior knowledge of the plan to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September. But a lawyer representing Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien now says that was wrong. The claim was included in a letter sent in early April — and made public Wednesday — by attorney Kevin Marino. The letter was sent to Randy Mastro, the high-priced defense attorney who led the governor’s internal review of the scandal. The letter demanded corrections to a report produced by Mastro and his team, which cleared Christie of any role in the scandal. Among Marino’s demands: that Mastro retract the portion of the report claiming that Stepien had falsely assured Christie that he had no “prior knowledge of the [GWB] lane realignment.”...

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Chris Christie peddles hypocrisy to gathering of gullible conservatives

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, famous of late for the bridge scandal in his state, probably figured he could make a speech to right-wing ideologues about fiscal responsibility without anyone in his audience realizing that his rhetoric was pure hooey. But alas, Christie’s audience included an editorial writer from one of his home-state newspapers. The result was THIS: Gov. Chris Christie has a big problem going into the 2016 presidential race, even if he survives the scandals without a scratch. He is pitching himself as the guy who can make deals, a pragmatist in a party that is weighed down by its ideologues. “Governors are about getting things done,” he said during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Maryland. “Governors are about making government work.” That pitch had promise during Christie’s early years in Trenton, when he signed bipartisan deals on pension and health reform, tenurereform and the property tax cap. He was on a roll. And then — long before Bridge­gate — he ran out of steam. The last major bipartisan agreement was the higher education merger in the summer of 2012. Since then, partisan stalemates have popped up everywhere, Washington-style. The two parties could not agree on the minimum wage, gay marriage or a tax cut. A bitter standof over the judiciary has left two vacancies on the Supreme Court, and dozens more at the county level. And on the budget, New Jersey faces a crisis that looks a lot like Washington’s. The exploding cost of entitlements is crowding out everything else. In Washington the spending is driven by Social Security and Medicare. In Trenton, it is pensions and retiree health costs. Several academic studies rank New Jersey’s structural deficit as among the worst in the nation, which explains why Wall Street has dropped New Jersey’s bond ratings on this governor’s watch. Still, Christie yesterday took his familiar shots at President Obama over his failure to solve the fiscal crisis in Washington. The president is not a real leader, he says. But what about Trenton’s fiscal crisis? And what about Christie’s leadership? He pushed hard last year for a tax cut, tilted to the advantage of the state’s wealthiest families, and claimed against all evidence that the state could afford it. Now he has flip-flopped, and is warning of a looming fiscal crisis that will require tough sacrifices. That is not sturdy leadership. It is the herky-jerky dance of a political opportunist. Solving the federal budget crisis is going to require a balance of tax increases and spending cuts. That’s what every bipartisan commission has recommended. Spreading the pain across the political spectrum is the only way to get a deal. Trenton will eventually have to embrace the same answer, a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. So will Christie lead? Will he follow his own preaching and make a balanced deal that both sides can accept? Sadly, that’s not going to happen until and unless he abandons his bid for the presidency. Here’s hoping he does exactly...

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Chris Christie and Jeb Bush would face obstacles if either sought the presidency

If you’re handicapping the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, you might want to take THIS into account: As conservatives gather in the Washington area on Thursday for three days of speeches from prospective 2016 presidential candidates and discussions about the future of the GOP, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three in 10 of all Republicans say they would not vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he ran for the White House. Christie will address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday morning. He was not invited to speak at last year’s event. What he says and the reception he receives will be closely watched and analyzed, and the new survey underscores the obstacles Christie will face if he seeks his party’s nomination in 2016. The poll also found that former Florida governor Jeb Bush has problems of a different kind. He is more popular in the Republican Party than Christie but faces potential head winds as a candidate. The Post-ABC poll found that almost half of all Americans, and 50 percent of registered voters, say they “definitely would not” vote for him for president — a possible hangover from the presidency of his brother George W. Bush. The overall findings underscore the degree to which the contest for the GOP nomination in 2016 is as wide open as any in the modern era. The poll found that there is no obvious beneficiary to Christie’s problems within the party or Jeb Bush’s apparent problem with the wider elec­torate. Many of those thinking about running have made little impression on the general public and in some cases they are not even well known among Republicans. The survey asked about nine Republicans, most of them thinking seriously about running in 2016, and one Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Twenty-five percent of all Americans say they “definitely would” vote for the former secretary of state, while 41 percent say they would consider doing so. Thirty-two percent of all Americans (and 37 percent of registered voters) say they definitely would not. Christie’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the past few months. After winning re­election handily in the fall, the governor was touted as the favorite of the GOP establishment to lead the party in 2016. He was considered a straight-talking Republican who knew how to attract support in a heavily Democratic state. Since then, he has been badly damaged politically by the controversy over a four-day traffic snarl in September that appears to have been ordered by his aides and advisers as political retribution. Christie fired those directly involved and said he had no direct knowledge of the incident when it happened. He is facing two investigations, one by the state legislature and the other by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. The poll does not provide information that could distinguish how much Christie’s problems are a result of the controversy and how much they reflect general skepticism toward him among conservatives. Just 9 percent of Republicans say they definitely would vote for Christie, while 50 percent say they would consider doing so. Eleven percent say they have no opinion. The 30 percent of Republicans who say they definitely would not vote for Christie is the highest percentage for any Republican tested. Next was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, at 24 percent, followed...

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