I've always assumed that Chris Christie is a favorite of Wall Street fat cats, but Politico tells me today that, while certain tycoons love the guy, quite a few are reluctant to back him for president:
Christie has an avowed fan base among some New York investors and bankers, with Home Depot founder Ken Langone leading the pack. But a number of donors, feeling flush after an election cycle in which the GOP establishment worked hard to tamp down tea party insurgents and pick mainstream winners in primaries, want to flex their muscle in picking the next nominee.I think this signals a problem for Democrats going into 2016 -- not because of what it says about Christie's status in the Republican race, but because of what it says about how Republicans are approaching the race.
... the bigger concern is temperament.
... In recent interviews, several donors, including several who are high on Christie, mentioned his showdown with a protester at a Hurricane Sandy-related town hall just before the election. "Sit down and shut up!" Christie scolded the man, whom he referred to derisively as "buddy."
... That moment did not sit well with wealthy donors, nearly all of whom asked not to be identified lest they trigger their own confrontation with the potential presidential nominee....
"There's a sense he could melt down at any time," said one donor who has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republican candidates over the past several election cycles, and would be well-positioned to help Christie.
Even longtime Christie allies think the governor's unwillingness to even dial down his approach even a notch or two could make it harder to get the Republican nomination.
"He helped himself enormously in the governors' races both in terms of his ability to raise money and getting around the country and meeting a lot of people and helping a lot of people," said David Norcross, a former Senate candidate and chair of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. "But when I saw that 'sit down and shut up' comment I kind of winced. That's not something I would have done. But I'm not Chris." ...
This tells me that they've really learned the #1 lesson of 2014, which is that Republican candidates need to have all their rough edges sanded off, and need to avoid saying anything controversial in the course of the campaign. If donors get this now, that means the message has been thoroughly absorbed in Republican World.
Which means that we're going to be hoping for a clown show in which candidates fall all over themselves trying to out-wingnut one another, generating embarrassing soundbites as they go along -- but the GOP insiders really get that they this mustn't happen. Even a Christie blowup that isn't based on extreme ideology is too much for them. Everybody's got to be smiley and charming and genial. Everyone has to be Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst. (You can say you're going to castrate "Washington" if you say it with a thousand-watt smile, just don't threaten a heckler ad hominem.)
If they really get that now in the GOP, 2016 is going to be tough for Democrats -- especially if the press revives its "we consider wingnutty statements from before the campaign to be off limits" rule. We know that most of the remaining contenders -- Paul, Ryan, Rubio, Kasich, Jeb -- can keep it bland. That may really be the winning strategy.