Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mitch Daniels of Indiana appeared on the same stage today to discuss the governing styles that have put each in the national spotlight as the GOP seeks to winnow its field of potential presidential candidates.
The “conversation” sponsored by Rider University’s Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics began with light-hearted banter as Christie relished the opportunity to interview a governor whose style he said he has watched closely.
But the dialog, which included questions from Rider University students, inevitably turned to talk of the presidency. Each man has turned down entreaties to run for the nation’s highest office and each gave some insight into what they described as an intensely personal decision.
In answer, Christie described a typical campaign day of early rising, cold weather and hand shaking in far flung reaches of the country. The people who have talked you into running won’t be there during those days, Christie said, so it has to be something you intensely believe in.
“So it’s got to be something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do but I think what you must do at that time in your life both for you and your country. And for me the answer to that was it isn’t. And if you don’t feel that deeply in your heart that it is than you have no business asking anybody for their money or their vote and that’s why I said no.”
Daniels immediately took the bait, echoing Republicans throughout the country.
“The first thing I want to say is I’m not taking no from Christie, I’m taking not yet,” Daniels said to a round of applause.
For his part, Daniels said, it came down to family considerations. His wife and three daughters had the deciding vote.
“If you finally begin to entertain what originally is just a surrealistic notion then there are a lot of other factors involved,” Daniels said. “The way we conduct politics these days it’s a pretty savage business. I could have done with that but at that level it’s not a decision you make for yourself. There are five women in my family and they are a formidable force.”
Christie threw fuel on the fire, however, by adding that the reason that both he and Daniels have been part of the conversation is because of their style of governance, he said, which is the direction the GOP should be heading.
“I think the interesting thing to note about this going forward in terms of the requests that have been made of both me and Mitch is that we have been predominantly talking about the same things, maybe in different language but the same type of problem that we are identifying for our country’s future,” he said. “From my perspective if lots of people are clamoring for us to do this than I don’t know why candidates like the president and others in our party haven’t figured out that that’s right.”
Both men’s endorsements are likely to be heavily sought in the election cycle, but to date neither has come forward. Christie has remained mum on the topic save for discussions among party insiders demanding a unified voice once he does.
Asked who he plans to endorse, Daniels punted.
“If I can do something to be useful I expect to help our nominee, but I believe several aspirants have the character and the skills to be president. You just heard me express thoughts about the kind of campaign I’d like to see somebody run and I’m hopeful that more and more of them will.”