At almost every speaking event I have done post-election, a question will come from the audience: “What about Chris Christie?”
The question usually carries with it an unspoken second part –“Wouldn’t he make a great presidential candidate?”
It is my practice to believe candidates like Christie and Jim DeMint when they say they are not running, but the deep affection for Christie throughout the land carries within it a message for all the people who are running or are thinking about it. Christie is striking a chord deep within a lot of people across the ideological spectrum. The approach he embodies is powerful, and many would be wise to emulate it.
Here are rules of political engagement drawn from the first year of Christie’s national prominence:
1. Treat the audience like smart people.
2. Speak bluntly.
3. Answer the question that is asked.
4. Name names of real opponents and back up any accusation with specifics.
5. Identify the real problem and explain, in detail, what has to be done to solve it. Demonstrate competence and earn confidence by displaying a mastery of the subject matter.
6. Refuse to allow a liberal media to define issues and stories, and call the MSM out its self-interested members try and distort any issue or confrontation.
7. Don’t avoid real conflicts. Hang lanterns on them.
Voters know that the country and many of the states are in deep fiscal holes. But they also don’t believe the nonsense that flows out of most state budget offices and certainly not out of Team Obama. Chris Christie and Paul Ryan have both earned enormous points from the public for spelling out in detail all that ails us and being very specific about the choices ahead.
The era of unread bills and airy hand waving and of “we have to pass the bill to know what is in it” is over. Chris Christie’s rise and popularity signals the return of a far more powerful and promising approach to politics, though not one friendly to the president or his overmatched aides.