Before the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was widely believed to be one of the main contenders for the job. Now, perhaps in preparation for Christie's RNC keynote address, news is emerging that Christie's absence on the ticket was as much due to his own priorities as to Romney's.
Two non-mutually exclusive explanations for Christie's refusal to be considered have been offered so far, each of them revolving around the requirement that Christie resign his post as New Jersey Governor in order to be Romney's vice president. The New York Post has learned through leaks that Christie's refusal to take this step may have been motivated by political considerations. Specifically, Christie believed that Romney had committed serious missteps and was unlikely to win the election:
Christie adamantly refused to sacrifice his post, believing that being Romney’s running mate wasn’t worth the gamble.
“[Christie] felt, at one point, that [President] Obama could lose this. And, look, there still is that chance. But he knows, right now, you have to say it’s unlikely,” one source said.
The tough-talking governor believed Romney severely damaged his campaign by releasing only limited tax returns and committing several gaffes during his international tour in July.
Certain Romney was doomed, Christie stuck to his guns — even as some of his own aides pushed him to run, another source said.
“There were people around him that wanted him to reconsider, to actually push to be vice president. But he’s known there are real issues here. Chris knows the score,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Michael Brandon Dougherty at The American Conservative has suggested mildly less venal motivations for Christie's refusal:
It is a little more complicated than that. Essentially, Romney’s people made it clear that the price of joining the ticket was resigning the top office in the Garden State. If Christie failed to do that, campaign finance rules would have restricted the money that Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Citibank could give to the ticket.
So if Christie resigns and the ticket loses, suddenly one of the most popular Republican governors is completely off-stage. It makes perfect sense that Christie would not fool around like this, but this story could pick up a little juice heading into Christie’s keynote speech.
Was Christie's refusal given for legitimate reasons? Who knows. However, Romney doesn't appear to have suffered from his absence, given the general reaction to Congressman Ryan. And Christie's keynote isn't likely to suffer from underexposure either.