I spoke with three different close advisers to Christie this week about their internal deliberations inside the campaign. Unlike any other candidate, Christie had knockout punching power, so why didn’t he go straight for the king of the hill rather than trying to outlast the other Trump alternatives?But Christie was a suicide bomber, except that the person he wounded while blowing up his own campaign was Marco Rubio, not Trump. In fact, after Rubio and Christie both finish out of contention in New Hampshire, "suicide bomber" is precisely how Rupert Murdoch described Christie:
... Even if Christie could have made an impact, his counselors said, they weren’t sure it would have helped them.
“Is it a confrontation for confrontation’s sake? Was that going to accrue to our benefit or to someone else’s benefit?” the adviser asked.
Another top Christie adviser said, “A lot of times we were playing a short-term game. We were playing to get into the next debate.
“Nobody wants to be a suicide bomber,” this adviser said. “Then you’ve decided you’re part of a cause and not a candidacy.”
Chris Christie, suicide bomber. Damages victim while blowing himself up!— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 10, 2016
And the question "Was that going to accrue to our benefit or to someone else’s benefit?” is ridiculous because, as The New York Times reported a few days before Christie's attack on Rubio, the Christie campaign was collaborating with the Jeb Bush campaign on tag-team Rubio attacks:
Frustrated and flailing as his candidacy threatens to slip away, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is embarking on a scalding effort over the next week to discredit Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the man he blames for undermining his campaign and whose ascendancy he deeply resents.The excuses don't hold up. Digby might have the real answer:
And Mr. Christie has a secret ally: Jeb Bush.
... Members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt Mr. Rubio’s rise in the polls, according to Republican operatives familiar with the conversations.
... A division of labor seems to have taken hold. While a well-financed “super PAC” supporting Mr. Bush assails Mr. Rubio on television and in the mail, Mr. Christie has increased the critiques on the campaign trail.
“Jeb can’t do that sort of stuff,” said an adviser to Mr. Christie, referring to the New Jersey governor’s slashing “boy in the bubble” attack on Mr. Rubio and his comfort with political street fighting. “They don’t have the weapon.”
... maybe the truth is really that Christie is one of those bullies who only picks on people who can't fight back. Trump would have fought back and I'd imagine it wouldn't have been pretty.With Trump, it would have been personal. Maybe that's why all these guys hold back -- Christie, Rubio, the billionaires who vastly prefer other Republicans but refuse to go after Trump. The candidates can handle political attacks, the billionaires can handle smash-mouth business tactics. -- but Trump's ad hominem attacks threaten their precious egos. They can't handle that.