- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2011

Chris Christie is raising hopes with a three-state fundraising and speaking tour this week. The tough-talking, first-term New Jersey governor has repeatedly said he’s not running for the Republican nomination, but the media and pundits who want him to run for president won’t take “no” for an answer.

Mr. Christie was in Missouri on Monday and will hit Louisiana and California to raise money for the state Republican Party. “Here in New Jersey, the governor has been able to start the economic comeback by adding private-sector jobs while making government live within its means,” New Jersey GOP spokesman Rick Gorka told The Washington Times. “It’s a message that seems to translate no matter what state you may reside in.”

Mr. Christie’s spokesman insists the tour is unrelated to any secret 2012 ambitions, telling The Washington Times flat-out that, “He’s not running.”

The denials only seem to encourage his supporters. Bestselling author Ann Coulter has been the unofficial president of the Draft Chris Christie campaign since his 2010 upset victory over incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine. The writer of “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America” believes many of the other frontrunners had easy races in Republican-friendly states, while Mr. Christie “has appeal in a dark blue, government union-dominated hellhole like New Jersey,” Miss Coulter told The Washington Times before adding that she loves the Garden State’s voters.

The Republican fascination with a Christie candidacy echoes recent experience with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In a matter of weeks, the Lone Star State leader went from being seen as a knight in shining armor to struggling in second place. It’s easy to fall in love with a fantasy, but harder to stay in love with a flesh-and-blood, imperfect candidate.

While Mr. Christie has proved to be a stalwart fiscal conservative, his environmental views appear left-of-center. Miss Coulter explains this away by saying, “The most important thing to look for in a presidential nominee is not what they say, but what they have done. For example, Christie said he believed in man-made global warming. And he said that in the context of what? That’s right: when vetoing a global warming bill.”

Liberals in the media are equally obsessed with Mr. Christie’s decision. Tracking his every move and utterance as a new headline, it has a special infatuation for the northeast executive. Miss Coulter explains the two possible reasons. “The benign reason is that he’d be a blast to cover. He’s a hoot — smart interesting and funny,” she told us. “The non-benign reason is that they want to stir up trouble among Republicans by giving our probable nominee, Mitt Romney, another competitor.”

Were he to enter the race, Mr. Christie’s gift for direct, honest answers would likely draw support from Tea Partyers weary of predictable politicians who rely on Washington double-talk. This could fracture their votes over several candidates and help Mitt Romney - another blue-state governor from the East Coast - cruise to the nomination.

Sure, all of the current Republican presidential contenders have flaws - they’re human. But any one of them could bring the change America needs to recover from the harm Mr. Obama has done to the economy. It’s important for the GOP to unify behind one of them soon.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.