It is conceivable to picture Donald Trump sitting at the head of a table of 30 so-called experts while they slide rule out the perfect matching candidate to run on the national Republican ticket with their boss.
It is also very unlikely that the person they come up with would be Gov. Chris Christie.
In fact, they could very well start the conversation by crossing him off the list.
But it’s also just as plausible to imagine Trump hearing them all out and declaring, “You’re fired,” followed by his own announcement that Christie would, in fact, be his running mate.
If Trump defies conventional wisdom by nature, his selection of Christie seems wholly Trump-like.
First, the negatives.
When he ran for president, the Bridgegate-saddled Christie began the race with the highest negatives among those prez candidates in the contest. After his disappointing showing in New Hampshire, news analyses revealed that rival campaigns had never worried about Christie. The Marco Rubio Campaign reasoned that if the New Jersey governor ever looked like a threat, all they would simply throw some money at an advertising effort to remind voters of Christie’s high negatives. That’s exactly what happened, too. Having tread a very well work trail around New Hampshire in the lead up to the primary, retail politics animal Christie began showing a very strong pulse in the Granite State, intensified by an endorsement by the influential Union Leader out of Manchester. But once the Rubio Campaign began hitting Christie on TV, the New Jersey governor tumbled into the abyss.
So as much as Trump might personally adore Christie, the New Jersey governor’s negatives persist. They’re worse now than then.
Democrats have thousands of hours-worth of grainy black and white footage of the George Washington Bridge ready for splicing in the event that Trump taps Christie.
There’s also the regional factor.
Does the rest of the country really crave a GOP ticket composed of two guys from the New York Metropolitan Area?
Now the positives.
Go back to that moment in the last New Hampshire debate when Christie demolished Rubio and observe the look on Trump’s face. He looks momentarily like the young version of Trump ringside at the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks title fight in Atlantic City.
Trump prizes combativeness and competitiveness and effectiveness, and the argument can be made that Christie showed a greater abundance of those qualities in the GOP debates than any of the other candidates. Certainly over the course of many of those encounters he appeared to be auditioning for the role of vice president.
His endorsement of Trump prior to most of the rest of the Republican establishment, and his eagerness to play the part of loyal second banana quickly set Christie apart from a wavering GOP multitude and the entrenched opposition of battered brand names like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
The qualities of fierce prosecutor capable of roping and hogtying a rival along with demonstrable loyal – at short term detriment to himself as Christie’s sagging New Jersey poll numbers show – make Christie certainly examination worthy for the presumptive Republican nominee. Again, Trump recognizes that the essence of his appeal is his knack for acting on his own instincts and judgement, a strategy that defied the Republican establishment. He might play the Christie card in that vein, recognizing that no one else can give him such a degree of comfort. Christie can make the case that as one long schooled in the bureaucracies of government and political cocktail circuitries, he can make the case better than most for why he should be the guy to act as that buffer between Trump and the Republican establishment.
“I know how to talk to Donald,” one can imagine Christie telling some sedate governor at his wit’s end for being unable to connect with Trump, as he fulfills the role of conduit.
For these reasons, Christie circulates as a VP prospect, and a viable one given Trump’s particular set of values of needs. The question is whether Christie’s long persistent high negatives, which sank his presidential bid, pose simply too great a threat to Trump.