If you were planning on running in the GOP primary for president — this year or any year — would you fight with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in public? Probably not.
Check out a piece by Christian Heinze in The Hill about the feud between Christie and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), a story neither side would comment on. Apparently it all started when Palin offered to campaign for Christie as he made his bid for governor in 2009, and he declined the offer. At the time he said "this is about New Jersey issues and New Jersey, and I don't think having Gov. Palin here would do me, or frankly the state, a whole lot of good in the sense that we need to talk and focus on what the New Jersey issues are."
OK, Christie didn't have to go that far. He could have quietly said no, thank you. But he was obviously courting independent voters in the Garden State and wanted them to know he had turned the offer down. He has not passed up the opportunity since, however, to criticize Palin. He not only told The New York Times he need more unscripted moments, saying, "If Gov. Palin never does any of those things, she'll never be president, because people in America won't countenance that," but Christie even went as far as to say that Palin shouldn't have used the phrase "blood libel" in the video she released after the Tucson shootings.
Indeed, Christie is doing what few Republicans will, criticizing Palin and risking the wrath of the grassroots conservatives who love her. And though she held her fire for a while, she finally let loose on him last week. "He has no choice but to cut budgets, because he's broke, his state is broke," she said on Fox Business Network, adding that real courage is cutting spending when the state has a surplus, which, she added, is what she did in Alaska.
Christie is willing to fight with Palin because he can — for one, he's said he isn't running for president — but more importantly, he is more popular with the base right now than she is. If Palin truly is running, which it doesn't appear she is, she wouldn't likely be fighting back. Another possible sign? Palin won't be at the first Republican debate scheduled for May 2 in California at the Ronald Reagan Library, and will instead keynote a Colorado fundraiser for families of fallen soldiers. Mike Huckabee isn't going to be there, but he isn't looking like a candidate either.
There will be another debate three days later, Friday, May 5, in South Carolina. Will Palin be there?

WHO IS THE GOP FRONT-RUNNER FOR 2012? Ask A.B. returns Tuesday, March 15. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.