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Our brief national fascination with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “will he or won’t he” moment is over. Christie made it official today by announcing that he will not run for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.
For months, many vocal Republicans have begged Christie to toss his hat in the ring. And for months he’s replied no, no and NO! Every time someone suggested that Christie, who has been in office for less than two years, should get into the race for his seemingly no-nonsense approach to governing, he was firm in his response, saying his focus was on governing New Jersey. But politicians are only human. With so many admirers, supporters and party big-wigs, including Henry Kissinger, pleading for Christie to change his mind and, in essence, suggesting that he was the only candidate who could save the Republican Party, it had to be intoxicatingly difficult to stick with his original answer.
So after his short-lived reconsideration, why not make all those fans happy and get in the race, where a true front-runner has yet to emerge? Could it have been family reasons? NBC’s Jamie Gangel quotes her sources as saying that his wife and four children were on board and ready to take on the campaign if Christie changed his mind. Political baggage? All candidates have some, and Christie’s isn’t particularly pretty. He’s notorious for snapping at voters and reporters if he doesn’t like what he’s been asked. For example, when one mother asked how he could advocate for cutting public school funding when he sends his own children to private school, he angrily retorted it was none of her business. His weight? I doubt that’s the reason, but his girth was definitely the focus of politicos’ attention in the last few days instead of Christie’s positions on public education or the economy.
There will surely be some more speculation about why Governor Christie made this decision, but the more important question is this -- is the Republican party in the midst of an existential meltdown? Those running are afraid to anger the small but vocal tea party. Republican voters don’t seem happy with any of the choices -- the title of frontrunner has gone from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain. And with another Republican debate on the horizon and the current level of voter dissatisfaction, don’t be surprised if the crown gets passed to someone else very soon.
The Republican candidates still in the race dodged a political bullet with Christie’s announcement, but they have to view this collective desire to add another candidate to an already crowded field as a wake-up call that they all have to work harder to prove they’re worthy to American voters.
So with another debate coming up, who do you think the new frontrunner will be? Does Christie’s decision open the door a little wider for Sarah Palin? Or should we believe Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, when she says he’s the man to beat?
iVillage contributor Joanne Bamberger writes about the intersection of motherhood and politics at her blog, PunditMom. She is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press, 2011).