The more Chris Christie flirts with a presidential race, the worse the whole idea looks.
Reports that the New Jersey governor is seriously -- seriously -- considering a run come from a political brain trust that appears to be made up mainly of the folks who ran Rudy Giuliani's campaign four years ago.
Does anybody remember the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign? It was one of the most dismal flops in recent political history. Rudy bet everything on Florida, a state with which he appeared to have zero connection. He'd be there in his suit, talking to small groups of senior citizens in shorts and bathing suits. Not since Richard Nixon walked the beach with his dress shoes on had somebody looked less comfortable in a vacation setting.
But there they are again. Team Christie is led by Mike DuHaime, the GOP strategist who ran Rudy's 2008 presidential campaign. Bill Stepien, the New Jersey governor's deputy chief of staff, was Giuliani's national field director. And Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella held a similar post in the Giuliani campaign.
None of this is surprising. Christie and Giuliani have similar biographies. They both arrived late in the running-for-office game after a career as a prosecutor. And more to the point, it's extremely late in the game and the pool of Republican campaign strategists is pretty well picked over.
Let's think a little bit more about the Giuliani comparisons. On many points, Christie looks more promising. Being governor of New Jersey is a more challenging job than being mayor of New York City. The city council here is very weak, and if a mayor is strong-willed, it's pretty easy for him to charge in and shake things up. Giuliani's biggest challenge was crime-fighting, and he happened to be doing it at the very moment when the combined forces of demographics and God-knows-what were sending crime plunging around the country.
Christie's challenges are almost all economic, and since that's exactly what the nation has on its mind, his experience is a better fit. For all his abrasiveness, he's still more charming than Giuliani, and so far he hasn't shown himself to be the kind of person who might announce he's divorcing his wife at a press conference that preceded any conversation with the spouse in question.
On the other hand, Giuliani appeared to be a great family man during his early years as mayor. Who knows what Christie will be like after he's been governor for a term or two? One of the biggest problems for the New Jersey governor is that he's just getting started.
Unless you count being a prosecutor as good preparation for being president, and I don't.
This is the biggest defect in the whole Chris Christie, savior of the Republican presidential race, scenario. I co-authored a book on Giuliani, and the biggest thing I learned from that experience is that a career in law and order is a bad training ground for politics. You spend your formative years believing that the answer to most problems is to lock up the bad guys. As an elected official, you still subconsciously go into every battle preparing to indict somebody.
It's a problem. Fortunately, if Christie marches into the fray way too late in the game, with Rudy Giuliani's political advisers to guide him, we probably won't have to worry about it for long.