The sleeper hit of the storm may be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. After stumping for months for Romney, and blasting Barack Obama during his Republican National Convention keynote speech, Christie praised the president’s leadership in responding to Sandy. When aggrieved Fox News commentators tried to help him walk back his praise, he shut them down by saying that he didn’t give a damn about presidential politics right now.
In the short term, such an attitude makes Christie look like an attractive bipartisan “big picture” leader, which will only help in his upcoming gubernatorial reelection campaign. But, should Romney lose on November 6, it also leaves him open to a 2016 presidential bid. Christie’s tough talk has been attenuated by genuine concern for citizens, and he looks like the sort of guy unafraid to stand above the political fray to get the right things done.
On the other hand, Democrats can well remember the week following September 11, when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed vaguely Churchillian in fearlessly tromping around the city, speaking of citizens’ indefatigable spirit and rising above partisan mummery and culture-war crap to get the cleanup done. Combined with his pro-choice bona fides, his tendency to dress in drag and the fact that he seemed like a cosmopolitan jackass rather than a provincial one, Democrats rapturously wished that he were the president, instead of that mushmouthed goober Dubya.
Then, in 2004, Giuliani addressed the Republican National Convention, invoking a “troops stabbed in the back” myth and an image of Democrats as terrorist- and immigrant-aiding fifth-columnists, sapping the vitality of the folk and destroying the nation from within. He did everything short of address the Republican Party from a throne of skulls.
So this Christie thing might not pan out.