In a 41-minute speech last week to a summer meeting of the Republican National Committee, New Jersey governor Chris Christie said to 168 kingmakers, "I'm in this business to win." While Christie's strategy signature is decidedly to the high-engagement side of the influencer's spectrum, he reminded his peers in so many words of the holy trinity of influence strategy:
Position. Re-Position. De-Position.
As seen through The Standard Table of Influence, here are notable plays he ran on his opponents, both known and presumed, for an early advantage in the coming 2016 presidential race.
A Label on Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul, whose libertarian principles have grated on Christie: "We are not a debating society... I think that we have some folks that believe that our job is to be college professors [who] basically spout out ideas that nobody ever does anything about. For our ideas to matter, we have to win because, if we don't win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern, all we do is shout into the wind."
A Recast on Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal who in January pleaded with his own party not to be stupid: "I'm not going to be one of these people who's going to come and call our party stupid. There's nothing wrong with our party and its principles and its core. We've got to get back to deciding that the RNC is about electing Republicans."
A Crowd on Wisconsin governor Scott Walker whose success as a union-tamer is a threat to GOP hopefuls: "You got two choices [when your are a] governor: You either sidle up next to 'em [and] whisper sweet nothings in their ear and try to hope they just don't punch you. Or the second alternative is: You punch them first!"
A Ping, this one aimed at Hillary Clinton, who is both presumed to have a lock on womens' votes and whom Christie is keen to cast as his eventual opponent: "Lots of folks talk in our party about a gender gap, and we have a gender gap in New Jersey, too. The last public poll showed that I'm winning women 59 to 30 in New Jersey... And, by the way, I'm running against a female opponent!"
Each of these plays was designed to entertain and propel pundits and to make foils of both friends and foes. Christie is a candidate-in-waiting who knows already how he'll counter Paul and Jindal, how he'll marginalize Walker, and how he'll compete, ultimately he hopes, with Hillary.
In any case, Christie knows how to run plays and his speeches are certain proof.