Chris Christie’s smart move

A vague public schedule, simply listing a “press announcement” with no availability for questions.

It’s a classic move to get the media to show up at your press conference, with the hopes of a major announcement.

And Chris Christie did just that on Tuesday in the New Jersey State House Rotunda.

Reminiscent of Christie’s heyday, the press packed in to hear his announcement. 

Just. In. Case. 

Turns out, it had nothing to do with President-Elect Trump. 

“And by the way,” Christie started in on the press, “if I was announcing that I was leaving to do something else, I suspect I wouldn’t be doing it by myself. Right? So everyone should just get logical about this and lower the hysteria.”

Classic Christie. 

Before Trump was attacking the press, it was Christie. And just when you may have written off his political future, he was at it again.

Christie’s political career is in a bad place, dare I write the obvious. And if Christie wants to reestablish himself on the national stage at some point in his career, he needs to slowly rebuild his reputation and dig himself out of the wreckage that started with Bridgegate and ended with a 6th place finish in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately for “America’s Governor,” this downward spiral continued well after his campaign came to a screeching halt in the state that was supposed to understand his straight talk and lengthy town halls.

Where do I start? Guilty verdicts for Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni in the Bridgegate trials. A 21-point approval rating according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey in October of 2016. 

Getting pushed out as head of Trump’s transition team over rumors of a bad relationship with Jared Kushner. New Jersey’s credit rating being downgraded a total of 10 times during Christie’s tenure. And Christie’s signature accomplishment – pension reform – not nearly the success the blue state that supported his reelection bid had hoped it would be.

With the barrage of negative headlines, it is easy to forget that Christie was “telling it like it is” long before Trump showed up, and the people loved it. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t divisive.

But somehow, it worked for him. He argued with a teacher at a town hall, but instead of it backfiring, a video of the exchange went viral and The New York Times called him a “YouTube star.” He befriended the Democratic mayor of Newark, now Senator Corey Booker, and the two ended up on Oprah alongside Mark Zuckerberg to announce a $100 million donation to Newark’s public schools. 

And, sure, Republicans were furious with him over the hug (that wasn’t really a hug) with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy, but they managed to forgive him. And it was easy to after his tremendous reelection victory in New Jersey, along with his incredible ability to bring that success to other governors across the country as chair of the Republican Governors Association.

He had fun with his fame too, making him all the more likeable. He took over late night television with a little “dad dancing” alongside Jimmy Fallon, and joked about his weight by eating a donut on David Letterman. His notorious fleece from Hurricane Sandy was the stuff of laughs in good fun, and an apparent collection of dozens of fleeces the governor received as gifts after the fact. Those were the good old days for Christie.

Tuesday’s press conference didn’t take over the airwaves the way it would have years ago, but it did remind me of a time when Christie was telling hecklers to “sit down and shut up.” If voters were listening, it was reminiscent of the straight-talking, no-nonsense style that made him the political star he once was. And frankly, it annoyed the heck out of the press. The perfect combination that so many politicians seek to find.

The question is this – is there room for a Christie comeback now that Trump is going to be the next President of the United States, even if it will take years to happen?

The only way for it to be even remotely possible is for Christie to keep making smart moves like the small one he just made in the New Jersey State House Rotunda. 

One step at a time.

Ronica Cleary is a Political Reporter for Fox 5 News and Co-Host of Fox 5 News On The Hill.


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