Nearly three weeks ago I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library when the venue played host to the GOP presidential candidate’s debate featuring eight Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the presidency. All of the candidates in attendance, accomplished politicians in their own right, made an impression on the mostly friendly audience; still none of them, with the possible exception of Texas governor Rick Perry, seemed to really capture the minds and sentiments of the attendees.
Yesterday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie addressed a similar crowd (except twice the size of the presidential debate) also at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, but the energy was different—Christie mesmerized the room.
While the current GOP field is diverse and intriguing, none of the candidates have the rock star effect that Christie has among Republicans.
Gov. Christie spoke about leadership and the lack of which he sees from the White House and President Obama. He spoke about the Obama administration’s lackluster foreign policy and deficiencies in addressing major national challenges, inferring Obama’s policies have been mostly reactionary and off base. “Real leaders don’t read polls,” Christie said “they change polls.”
That was not the only applause line in Christie’s speech, but the biggest ovation that came during the evening was not from a remark made by Christie, but rather a woman in the audience who was given a microphone to ask a question. Instead of asking a question, her voice cracking slightly, she made a long yet tasteful and simple plea to the governor of the Garden State to enter the presidential race: “We need you, our country’s needs you.”
Her remarks caused the audience to rise in unison offering a standing ovation.
Christie had already been asked several questions about whether or not he would run for president and he referred to his previous answers, but even he seemed taken aback by the way this particular audience member pleaded with him.
What Chris Christie has over the current field of Republican presidential candidates is a rock star following capable of evoking magnified emotion. Even if Christie does not run for the presidency in 2012, he is quite possibly the most powerful messenger for the GOP today.