Dear Governor Christie:
It is over. For the good of the Republican Party, the State of New Jersey, you, and your family, it is time to put to rest all speculation that you may run for president in 2016. Have one of your famous news conferences — call us all idiots if you’d like — but officially announce that you’ll not be running for president.
I know it is difficult to do. This time last year you were the favorite to win the Republican nomination, riding post-Sandy approval ratings that doubled those of most Republican governors. What is now the most famous traffic jam in history changed all that.
I actually don’t think Bridgegate is as bad as a frothing Rachel Maddow has made it out to be. I think spending taxpayers money to hold a special election for Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat so that popular Democrat Corey Booker didn’t soil your landslide re-election win was at least as bad. Using federal Hurricane Sandy relief money to put together what amounted to a campaign ad instead of giving it to families struggling to rebuild was worse. Charges that you used Sandy relief money to try and extort the Mayor of Hoboken are far worse.
But then again, I am a fiscal conservative, the kind you were when you went after the teachers unions and state budget with a vengeance. I was one of those who was taken in by your You Tube theatrics. You really seemed to be fighting for fiscal sanity. I didn’t mind that you were labeled a bully, as long as you were fighting for us.
But something has changed. You have recently started to show that that it is not about us, it’s about you. The state money that you took from state employees, you had no problem spending for your own personal gain.
And that brings us to the million dollars in taxpayers money you gave to your attorneys to investigate the Bridgegate allegations against you. To no one’s surprise, their findings clear you of any and all wrongdoing. The findings were supposed to help you get out in front of more serious investigations to come. How did that work out for you? The investigation has been universally ridiculed, as apparently everyone else involved is to blame but you.
But everyone else is in your administration. Don’t you take the ultimate responsibility? You can’t be both victim and chief executive. If you didn’t know, you should have. And if those under you are “inexplicably stupid,” as you told Diane Sawyer, you’re the one who hired them.
You see, there is no way out of this, at least not for 2016. But you are a young man, who is slimming down and will be fit and ready in 2020. It is possible to change the narrative by then. Stay in the media. Get a job at Fox News. Mend fences and help fellow Republicans. Most of all, you need to make friends.
That should have been made painfully aware to you when none of your fellow Republicans rushed to defend you. You wanted to go this alone, now you are on your own.
Your fellow Republicans remember when that even though you were first to endorse Mitt Romney, it was about you. You wanted something in return. When you were given the keynote speech at the Republican National convention, it was all about you. You barely mentioned Romney’s name. You were running for President even then and Romney was in your way. And when Hurricane Sandy hit a week before the election, there you were hugging Romney’s opponent, effusively telling the world what a great job the President has done. You made yourself the story, but, then again, that’s how you wanted it.
Rachel Maddow loved you then. You were a convenient electoral tool for an immediate MSNBC agenda. Did you really think their media love would last? I guess you really thought you were going to win on pure celebrity. But celebrity can be a double-edged sword.
My fear is that you will continue doing what you have always done, attempt to just bull through this scandal. It won’t work. The New Jersey Democrats won’t allow it. Worse, the U.S. Attorney in Trenton is investigating. I think you will be personally cleared of any wrongdoing, but it will be too late and a Presidential campaign is no time to rehab an image.
If you announce you are not running now , much of the attention and the pressure will dissipate. You will be doing yourself, your family, and the party a favor. If you run, you cannot win. You will be a sideshow and take attention away from serious candidates.
In Las Vegas last weekend, you said to Republican donors, “I don’t want to win an argument. I want to win elections.” It was a battle cry to nominate electable candidates. For now, that eliminates you Governor.
You have long said that being a leader means making the tough decisions. You have one that needs to be made now. Do us all a favor and announce that you are not running for president.
Follow @LarryMendte on Twitter.