Well, no, he didn't exactly drop out -- but he destroyed any chance he has to win the Republican nomination:
Flanked by Hispanic leaders, students, and immigration reform advocates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie celebrated the signing of his state's so-called DREAM Act on Tuesday, hailing the new law a sound economic choice and an object lesson in bipartisan cooperation....The headline of this Business Insider story says it all:
The bill grants in-state college tuition rates to undocumented high school graduates who attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years....
Chris Christie Just Made The Decision To Own Immigration Reform For 2016And there's even a photo that can appear in every anti-Christie flyer distributed before the South Carolina primary:
Chris Christie has given his conservative detractors another "hug" moment.
About two hours after holding a ceremonial signing New Jersey's version of the "Dream Act," Gov. Chris Christie tweeted a photo with one of the "Dreamers" the law will benefit, a New Jersey high school student who immigrated to the U.S. without authorization at a young age:
This is Diana Paneque. She's in the 11th grade at Union City HS. An impressive young lady & also a Dreamer. pic.twitter.com/SuA94tzxuW— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 7, 2014
I was sure that Christie was going to start tacking to the right ten minutes after the polls closed last November and he'd won his reelection rout. But it looks as if he's running a Morning Joe greenroom campaign -- he's listening to too many people who think that the key to victory in 2016 is Scarborough-style conservatism-with-a-few-dollops-of-centrism. I'm sure it's what his hedge-fund-manager fans want from him. I'm sure the thinking is that the Chamber of Commerce types are going to take the party back from those crazy tea types any minute now, you betcha.
But immigration is the third rail of Republican politics, and that was true wll before there was a tea party. In 2008, John McCain got away with having been an immigration reform supporter, but that was because he embodied militarism at a time when what Republican voters hated the most about Democrats was skepticism about Bush's wars. Christie doesn't have that advantage. (And, of course, even McCain had to repudiate his own immigration position during the primaries.)
Christie's taking the wrong course -- and that makes me happy, because he's been the strongest Republican in the general election polls. Nice knowing you, Chris.
AND: I think Christie's stance on immigration will have much more impact on his 2016 chances in the GOP primaries than the lane-closure thing, unless somehow that can be linked directly to death or serious harm (at least of a white person) as a result of emergency personnel being ensnared in a traffic jam. I think, and I'm sure you think, that the incident is illustrative of Christie's character -- vindictive, petty -- but the smallness of the issue, in national terms, is what's going to make GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina shrug it off. In fact, it might be seen as a positive among those voters, who'll assume that if he was behind the punishment of Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, well, the mayor must have done something to deserve it. Christie's strength has been the sense (among wingers and lovestruck media centrists who thrilled to his Fox-promoted YouTube videos) that he's good-bad but not evil -- he dresses people down, but only when they have it coming, and he's a cuddly guy otherwise. The right will assume the bridge story is more of the same. Immigration is another matter altogether -- he'll be on the defensive about that throughout the primaries.
AND I SHOULD HAVE ADDED: The revelation today in the bridge scandal is "that one of the governor's top aides was deeply involved in the decision to choke off [Fort Lee]'s access to the bridge," according to emails -- evidence that this was a political vendetta against a mayor who wouldn't endorse Christie. Yeah, but if there's never a smoking gun linking Christie directly, people who want to dismiss it will say it was the aide's fault. Aides can be fired. This still seems as if it will be contained sooner or later.