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The Big, Fat Chris Christie FAQ

1:22 PM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Oh, yes. In fact, when tough-guy Christie emerged in 2010 on those YouTube videos, I was pretty surprised. Because the Christie I followed on the campaign trail in 2009 was a very different animal. Here's how I described him then:

The candidate talked for barely two minutes before opening the floor to questions, first from the neighbors and then from the reporters.

Christie started out emphasizing property taxes, his campaign's main focus for the home stretch.… But [he] quickly went off message. He answered questions on point, instead of turning them back to his preset theme. So, for instance, he talked seriously about state constitutional conventions, urban education, AG appointments, the state supreme court, pension overhaul, and the regulatory hell New Jersey foists on businesses. He is friendly without being cloying, charming without being smarmy. He's asking for your vote, not your love.

In short, that's the Christie who showed up at the press conference last week. And that Christie is a very compelling figure. In truth, I think he’s at least as compelling as the charismatic tough guy from the videos. And the more he’s on display, the better.

6.) Okay, so Christie has command of multiple pitches. Still, he must be doomed. Everyone says so.

Like I said up top, if it turns out he was behind the lane closures, he's toast. But assuming he's innocent, he still does face one serious structural problem going forward. Sometimes a politician has a barely-perceived flaw, a knock on them that most voters are vaguely conscious of, but choose to ignore. With Christie it's the charge that he’s a bully.

What makes the Fort Lee incident so dangerous for Christie is that it's not an instance of random corruption—it's a charge that goes directly to the heart of the big concern people have about him.

Christie may well emerge from this crisis unbowed. But he will be, I suspect, on something like probation with voters. They might be willing to accept his explanation this time, but the next instance of bullying behavior may validate their least charitable feelings about him.

So he'd better play error-free ball from here on in. That’s the bad news. The good news is that he’s capable of doing just that.

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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