Laura Ingraham this week criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his apparent intention to sit-out the 2012 presidential campaign. She asked on air “(If) Chris Christie and these guys think the country is going to hell in a hand basket, isn’t it incumbent upon all of them…to step in now regardless of whether it is personally convenient for them?”
While talk radio is urging Chris Christie to enter the race, it is demanding that Mitch Daniels exit. The Indiana governor drew accolades from many for his CPAC performance — but Rush Limbaugh and other talkers have blasted him for his talk of a truce on social issues and his decision not to insert a brand-new right-to-work initiative at the top of his agenda.
Why is Chris Christie the heartthrob of the radio right, while Daniels is suddenly an intolerable RINO? Christie is not more conservative than Daniels, and arguably even less so. Christie told the Newark Star-Ledger that while personally pro-life, he won’t use his office to “shove that down people’s throats.” He supports New Jersey’s restrictive gun laws. And like Daniels, he has decided it’s tough enough to face his public-sector unions that he does not need to start an unrelated fight over right-to-work with private-sector unions. Yet the most acid-tongued of all right-wing commentators, Ann Coulter, has championed a Christie candidacy, asserting that if he declines to run, “Romney will be our nominee and we’ll lose.”
The difference is this: talk radio is not much interested in the substance of a politician’s views or the reasons for decisions. Talk radio wants a confrontational style, and unlike the soft-spoken Daniels, the fierce Christie meets the test. The rule seems to be: it’s OK to be a Republican moderate – provided you are belligerent enough about it.