Vice Presidents Collage

Christie as VP: The Fun We Missed

Rumor has it Romney’s first pick for VP was New Jersey Governor ChrisChristie.  Neat how stuff starts to come
out as the election gets closer. 
Reportedly, Christie didn’t show the discipline the Romney campaign
likes to see – showing up late to campaign events. 
One can see Christie’s electoral/political appeal.  His brashness and earthiness would have
contrasted nicely with the polished and heavily scripted Romney.  A Biden-Christie debate would have been a
blast!
It still probably wouldn’t have made much difference, VP
choices usually don’t and Ryan was also a solid pick.  Although Ryan does look a lot like a Romney
offspring…
It is interesting to think how Hurricane Sandy would
have played in the campaign with Christie as vice presidential candidate.  Christie probably would have needed to drop
campaigning to manage the disaster that struck his state.  Although this would have been mentioned
constantly in the news so it might not have hurt the campaign’s exposure.  If he had appeared effective the storm
response might have even helped the campaign.
One of the reasons the story about Christie’s almost being
the VP pick came out is because Christie has praised Obama’s aid to NewJersey.  There are rumors of bad blood
between Christie and Romney now.
But what if Christie were the VP candidate?  Would he have still praised the federal aid
to the state – possibly appearing magnanimous, above politics, and
pragmatic?  Would he have criticized it
and insisted he and Romney would have done it much better?  The political analysis would have been so much fun (probably irrelevant, but fun.)
Christie as Governing Partner
Following the theme of my work on the vice presidency, I
still argue that Christie would not have been a good VP choice.  First, looking at historical data the last
two governors to be vice president were disasters – Rockefeller and Agnew.  The former was too big for the job; the
latter was too small.  Granted this was four
decades ago, but what has really changed?  Governors are captains of their own ship, within their state environment
they are the 500 lb. gorilla.  They don’t
have to ask someone else if they can travel, give a speech, or how to structure
their time.  Given this experience, serving as
someone else’s number two does not come easily.
From the President’s viewpoint a governor also is a
problematic VP.  The VP slot is a chance
to bring an extremely experienced advisor into the White House.  Presidents have no shortage of advisors of
course – almost anyone in the world who is an expert on anything would be happy
to drop whatever they are doing to brief the President.  But an experienced Senator or House member with
high-level knowledge of some issues can not only bring policy background but
also knowledge of the people and institutions that Presidents have to deal
with – what I’ve called (stealing a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald) “the whole equation.”  Several recent vice presidents
were experienced Senators and their Presidents found their counsel on the
Senate invaluable.  Some recent vice
presidents have brought substantial knowledge of international affairs or
military affairs.  On a key issue it isn’t
just a matter of identifying the preferred policy, but how to get that policy
through Congress or get the appropriate allied nations to buy in.
Chris Christie appears to be a talented politician, but
there is little he could tell a President Romney about how to deal with the
Senate or the leadership of NATO – he would face the same learning curve as his
President and that learning curve is steep.

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