Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Chris Christie Is Probably In

Mike Allen of Axios, who is probably better plugged into politics than anyone this side of Maggie Haberman, is reporting that Chris Christie has made a decision to run for president and will announce it in a week or so. Christie's entry could be fundamentally different than that of all the other second-, third-, and fourth-tier players now in the race. All the others, from the hapless Mike Pence to the Indian guy whose name we can't remember without Googling "rich Indian guy running for president as a Republican" kind of have as their dream that somehow magically the stars will align and they get the GOP nomination. All of them are scared witless of actually criticizing Donald Trump for fear that he will attack back and hard. They don't know that you can't knock off the frontrunner by pretending there is no frontrunner. Please don't tell them. It would hurt their feelings.

Christie is not like that. He's been around the track a couple of times and knows his chances of actually being the nominee are small, but that really isn't his goal (although it would be nice). What he wants to do is knock out Donald Trump and move the Republican Party to a post-Trump future. If there were an SAT analogy question: "Honey badger is to animals as X is to politicians," the correct answer would be "Chris Christie." He can handle incoming fire well and he can also speak his mind. He knows Trump will go after him and that's fine with him. In fact, the more aggressive he is attacking Trump, the more aggressive Trump will be attacking him and the more news stories will be written about him. Will Christie shy away from hitting below the belt? We don't know, but we suspect that he won't. Maybe he can hire Stormy Daniels as an adviser. She's actually pretty good with words—for example, calling her encounter with Trump "the worst 90 seconds of my life." Christie knows that the way to take Trump down is not on policy or proving that New Jersey is where woke goes to die, but to make Trump look weak, get his goat, and have him blurt out something damaging.

Christie did a pretty good takedown of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2016 in one of the debates:

Could Christie take down Trump like that? Probably not quite as well, since Trump is a more experienced and better campaigner than Rubio. Still, it is certainly possible that Christie could wound Trump in ways none of the other POTUS-wannabes will even try to.

Christie has already said that if Trump is the GOP nominee he won't vote for him (or Joe Biden) and will write in someone else. That's already further than any of the other candidates have gone. Christie is clearly not going to pick up much of Trump's base, but he is betting that there are enough not-Trump Republicans out there who want to move on and were just waiting for someone to show up and stick it to Trump to make him viable. Christie is polling down in the weeds now. His test will come in the first debate, assuming he manages to make the stage. If he lands a few haymakers on Trump in the first debate, it could change the course of the campaign.

Further evidence that Christie is running is that he now has a super PAC. No serious candidate runs these days without one. The super PAC will be run by Brian Jones, a top adviser to both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. If the super PAC gets enough money, it could run ads on TV and the Internet that ridicule Trump and get lots of free publicity. (V)

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