The PJ Tatler

Ari Fleischer: It's Too Late for Chris Christie to Run Anyway

Frankly, I’ll be happy once we get past the will-they-or-won’t-they shuffle with Chris Christie and Sarah Palin. But here’s today’s look at the run that Chris Christie won’t take up this year.

The reason Mitt Romney is faring well so far in the campaign is that he has run for president before, making him a better candidate with a national structure in place to support him. The reason Rick Perry has hit a speed bump is that he’s new to running nationally, and by getting in at the buzzer, he didn’t leave himself much time or space for error. If Christie were to get in now, he would be swamped by the instant expectations of success, instant demands for access, and instant need to build a campaign apparatus that takes several months to properly create.

The fact his boosters seem to miss is that the difficulties of running nationally are exponentially greater than running in one state. And that’s why it’s too late for him to run — at least to run and win.

Let’s say he declares his candidacy this weekend, on October 1 — a mere four and a half months before the New Hampshire primary, a contest where a northeastern governor like Christie has to win or come in a close second if his candidacy is to have a chance. He and his supporters will immediately be hit by the cold, harsh slap of political reality, and they will realize there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what they need.

Fleischer goes on to list six factors that hurt late entry candidates once the excitement of their getting into the race wears off, and they’re worth taking a look at. Especially, the fact that a new entrant will attract fresh media scrutiny and that their lack of staff in the early days can lead to supporters feeling like they’re getting slighted when there just is no one on staff to return their calls yet. I’m fairly sure that has happened with the Perry campaign since he entered. To me, the biggest factor is simply the experience of having run a national campaign before. Statewide campaigns are the best scale analogs to national runs, but even they are not quite enough. The number one reason that Mitt Romney was the early frontrunner and is doing as well as he is is simply the fact that he has run before and is a competent enough manager to have improved over the 2008 campaign. His flaws are known knowns. Everyone else’s flaws are NEW! and SHOCKING! (except Gingrich’s, who has fallen from the national stage before), and they don’t quite have the staff or systems in place to handle hits and attacks.