Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul is starting to turn into Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding circa 1994 (For those under the age of 30, Google it. I get older with each blog post). It's getting nasty.
Anyhow, let me just cut through all of the posturing that has been going on and give you the bottom line here: In essence, this is a proxy fight between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party base of the Republican Party. Don’t kid yourself: Christie may have Tea Party tendencies at times and he definitely doesn’t come off to the naked political eye as GOP establishment, but he is.
In other words, he’s the guy that people like Karl Rove and the K Street crowd see as a candidate who can be appealing to moderates and Independents and thus as a serious candidate who can win a General Election.
Sound familiar? Didn’t the GOP establishment feel the same way about Mitt Romney? I will give Christie this: He is a GOP establishment candidate with a twist because he doesn’t look or sound like Romney or Jeb Bush so he definitely has that intangible working for him. But make no mistake: big money donors see Christie as a winnable viable candidate and that makes all the difference in the world.
Now, as for Rand Paul, he is the feisty upstart, who has the potential to make a serious run at the nomination if he plays his cards right. He can’t just be a Tea Party candidate. He must broaden his libertarian/conservative views to fit a larger segment of the party. He’s working on that now but there’s no doubt Paul has the heavier (no pun intended) lift than Christie. Not only is he going to have to square his libertarian philosophy with the broader conservative movement, he’s going to have to convince evangelicals that he’s not a traditional libertarian when it comes to being more liberal on the social issues.
Additionally (and this is the big one), he’s going to have to figure out how to deal with all the incoming fire from the GOP neoconservatives who are out to get him on a foreign policy that doesn’t currently line up with the party . It’s all very tricky.
Here’s one thing Christie and Paul do have in common: They are both extremely authentic and principled and are not shy about speaking out and being bold. Surely that will make for an extremely entertaining 2016 GOP Primary season.
By the way, in case you want to relive the Tonya vs Nancy clubbing incident, watch below.