Name: Christopher James Christie
Previous Experience: Lawyer, Freeholder and Board Chairman of Morris County, NJ, U.S. District Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Governor of NJ 2010 - Present
Signature Issue: Terrorism. When Christie discusses national security, he frequently references his career as a U.S. District Attorney, noting that he is the only candidate in the field to have actually prosecuted and jailed terrorists in the years after 9/11. He advocates for increased mass surveillance and stepped up enforcement abroad, including continuing drone strikes. He sparred memorably with Ron Paul on the issue during the first Republican debate.
Opportunities: The combination of Christie's experience as a Republican governor in a traditionally more Democratic state and his reputation for direct talk position him well as a candidate in this field. His campaign slogan, "Tell it like it is" and his willingness to debate his opponents directly help give him a less traditional, outsider appeal many conservatives are looking for, backed up by real executive experience. These qualities cross existing divisions in the party, appealing to both establishment and more conservative factions.
Challenges: A reputation for blunt talk can be a double edged sword; look no further than the specter of Bridgegate. Christie maintains he wasn't directly involved in the scandal, but the act of political revenge by his subordinates has an abrasive New Jersey cast that underscore the danger he faces when it comes to tone. Meanwhile New Jersey's economy, while it has improved since the financial crisis, continues to lag. A relative moderate, Christie's conservative credentials are often questioned by Tea Party activists and he has some difficulty energizing the party's base in general.
Did you know? President Bush informed Christie that he intended to nominate him for the U.S. Attorney post on September 10th, 2001.