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Chris Christie and the cult of governors as presidential candidates

October 4, 2011 |  9:40 am

Chris Christie

So the breathless speculation about a Chris Christie presidential bid is finally over (unless things look bad for the Republicans a few months from now). What has received little notice, perhaps because the phenomenon is taken for granted, is that the New Jersey governor has not been the, or even a, spokesman for his party on national issues. That's typical of governors aspiring to the presidency, but it's an odd phenomenon -- surely you want the parties to nominate national leaders who have been opining about national issues (and voting on them) while governors have been busying themselves with state budgets and union-busting.

In Britain, the opposition leader is the designated prime minister in waiting. When a David Cameron becomes prime minister, he needs no crash course in national issues; he has been debating them with the former prime minister for years. By contrast, governors-turned-presidents are at the mercy of their advisors, especially on foreign policy.

One candidate who was not a governor was John McCain, who was more conversant with national issues than any of his primary opponents and arguably better informed than his opponent, President Obama. But both were more logical national leaders than a governor, however charismatic.

-- Michael McGough

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Photo: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., Sept. 27. Credit: Jason Redmond / Reuters

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