It's interesting that we're getting this leak to Politico from the Romney campaign, but the leak is unsatisfyingly cryptic:
... campaign insiders tell POLITICO that [Chris] Christie was Mitt Romney's first choice for the Republican ticket....I guess the point of the story is that Romney didn't treat Christie right, and now see how Christie slipped the shiv into Romney -- or is it that those who worried about Christie's unreliability are now vindicated? Come on, Romney people -- if yo're going to leak, leak more pointedly and nastily than this. Give us obvious heroes and goats. The Palin leaking in '08 was much more fun.
Romney was so close to picking Christie that some top advisers at the campaign's Boston headquarters believed the governor had been offered the job....
Some Christie supporters were irritated to discover that the House budget chairman had been picked so long before the New Jersey governor had been told, meaning that he and other also-rans had remained as decoys. These supporters said at the time that Christie deserved more of a heads -up after being led on so strongly....
It's hard to tell why Christie wasn't picked. We're told that perhaps it was because he was late to a couple of Romney rallies -- but that's not even news: Politico reported that in June, and this story says that Christie was still under consideration in July.
My guess is that Christie wasn't picked primarily because, as the New York Post reported around the time of the Republican convention, he refused to quit the governorship, which meant he was legally constrained from raising money from certain donors:
His problem was two Securities and Exchange Commission rules that are meant to curb pay-to-play.In early June, Reuters had reported that Romney was thinking of announcing his running mate early, with money as a major consideration:
One rule ... restricts Wall Street executives whose firms underwrite municipal bonds from making personal contributions of more than $250 to a governor running for federal office -- or risk being banned from doing business in that state for two years.
That severely limits banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Citibank from donating to a Romney-Christie ticket if Christie remained governor because they do business with New Jersey.
The second rule, enacted in 2010, limits pension-investment advisers from making campaign donations to a governor running for federal office.
That would have restricted powerhouse firms like Morgan Stanley, Lazard and Wellington Advisors from contributing, because they also do business with New Jersey.
Romney officials were wary of losing those potential donations....
... the Romney team has discussed whether to announce the pick a few weeks earlier to generate buzz for his campaign during August and help raise campaign funds....Christie, I think, didn't want to give up his day job (which he clearly loves) in order to be an ATM for a ticket he thought was at serious risk of losing.
..."You double your ability to campaign, you double your ability to raise money," said one Republican official....
The story says, "At least on the surface, Christie and Paul Ryan are about as opposite as two Republicans could be: a brash outsider from the Northeast versus a bookish insider from the heartland" -- but I bet Mitt Romney doesn't see it that way. Christie and Ryan both seem comfortable in their own skin. (Ryan is a shifty, slippery, smooth-talking con man, but he doesn't seem at all anxious about being one, unlike Romney himself.) I think Mitt Romney envies people who are comfortable with themselves. He passed up one and chose another. He'd love to be one.