June 7, 2023

Christie and Pence

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday launched his 2024 presidential campaign with a withering attack on the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, calling him a ‘self-serving mirror hog’ and faulting other rivals for avoiding direct confrontation.” Reuters

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday declared himself a candidate in the 2024 Republican race for the White House… Pence will launch his campaign with a video and a speech in the early nominating state of Iowa on Wednesday.” Reuters

Both sides are critical of Christie’s candidacy:

“[Christie] has no constituency. Basically everyone who supported him back at his peak in 2013 eventually decided to support someone else. This left him with almost no support by the end of the 2016 race. The question then becomes this: What has Christie done in the past seven years to convince all the people who supported someone else in 2016 to support him now? The answer is nothing…

“But this does not mean his candidacy can simply be ignored and considered harmless. The truth is that Christie deciding to run makes it more likely that former President Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination. The reason is straightforward: He takes away votes from DeSantis, who currently enjoys by far the greatest support of all non-Trump candidates. Christie’s candidacy functions only to further split up the non-Trump vote — thus paving his way with gold toward the nomination. If anti-Trumpers like Chris Christie actually care about defeating Trump, then it is profoundly imprudent to continue splitting up the non-Trump vote into ever-smaller pieces.”
Jack Elbaum, Washington Examiner

“In Christie’s case, familiarity really does breed contempt… Despite robust name ID, Christie is tied for a distant seventh in the RealClearPolitics polling averages for 2024, coming in at one percent. Worse yet, in a much-discussed CBS/YouGov survey in early May, an incredible 70 percent of Republicans said they would not even consider voting for Christie, by far the worst showing in the field…

“Christie may see himself as someone in the mold of Gary Hart in 1988 or Newt Gingrich in 2012 — failed presidential candidates who won grudging respect and audience applause for strong debate performances in which they raised and answered questions no truly serious candidate would touch with a ten-foot pole. Christie is glib enough and hopeless enough as a candidate to pull off that limited kind of objective. There’s a threshold problem for Christie, however: He may struggle to meet the newly released criteria for participation in the first party-sanctioned debate on August 23.”
Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

Opinions on Pence’s candidacy below.

See past issues

From the Left

“If anyone is going to beat Trump in the primaries, they’ll have to make the base feel something in the same way Trump does. Something thrilling and intense. That’s what they have come to expect from their leaders; the days when a plodding character such as Bob Dole or Mitt Romney could get the party’s nomination are long gone. In a general election, Pence would offer voters the worst of all possible worlds: an uncharismatic candidate advocating the GOP’s unpopular policies…

“Nikki Haley paints herself as the leader of a new generation of conservatives. Tim Scott offers a conservatism that is hard right in substance but kinder and gentler in manner. But Pence — who at some point might have seemed as though he was constructed in a lab to become the GOP nominee (experienced! conservative! devout!) — is now exactly what no one wants.”

Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“[Pence] criticized George H.W. Bush for signing civil rights legislation and raising taxes and, in 2003, warned that a Medicare prescription drug benefit supported by the younger Bush would potentially ‘usher in the beginning of socialized medicine in America.’ His most high-profile act as governor of Indiana was signing a bill intended to allow businesses to refuse service to gay customers…

“Those are just the reasons to believe Pence wouldn’t win a general election. In the Republican primary, he’s now contending with a huge number of voters who believe he betrayed the party by refusing to help overturn 2020. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has more money than Pence, is polling way ahead of him, and has been targeting the religious and social conservatives Pence would need to form a winning coalition.”

Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

From the Right

“In an alternative universe, Mike Pence might be leading the Republican race for President in 2024. His résumé includes 12 years in the House, four as Governor of Indiana, and then four as Vice President, giving wise counsel and needed ballast to a volatile outsider in the Oval Office…

“As a conviction politician, Mr. Pence takes positions that aren’t always popular. He has defended reforming Social Security and Medicare, calling entitlements ‘the real driver of our national debt,’ and saying Mr. Trump’s policy ‘is identical to Joe Biden’s.’ He’s right on all of these points…

“A disciplined campaigner, Mr. Pence might prove less likely to make mistakes than his competitors. The flip side of this carefulness is that he has a reputation for being about as exciting as a mayonnaise sandwich on toast… On the other hand, Mr. Pence’s attempt to sell conservative polices with civility might play fine at the Dairy Queen in small-town Iowa, where he’s placing his initial bet.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“[Pence has] got the strongest social conservative credentials in the race, even more than Ron DeSantis, and intends to lean into those. For people tired of ‘pussy tapes’ and multiple wives and insult comedy from the top of the ticket, Pence is your man…

“The thing to understand about Pence and his family is that faith is deeply, authentically part of his nature and decision-making. They pray and they mean it. So if prayer tells you that you ought to run for president, no matter the odds, well, you do it because you think that’s where God wants you — on the debate stage, making the case for your heartfelt beliefs on all the issues, regardless of the flak. You don’t question it, you just do it.”

Ben Domenech, Spectator World

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