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Can Chris Christie Avoid the Giuliani Jinx?

Can Chris Christie Avoid the Giuliani Jinx?

You know things are messed up for the GOP when Gov. Chris Christie is the only Republican who leads Hillary Clinton in Georgia! (PDF)

Christie is at the top of the 2016 Republican presidential scrum and, for the moment, he even leads Sen. Rand Paul in Live Free or Die New Hampshire (PDF). The governor of reliably Blue New Jersey and possessor of an outsize personality, he commands attention.

Yet, none of this guarantees Christie the nomination. Electability is not the same as nominatability. He just needs to ask another Northeast Catholic executive who was also once deemed electable: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Conceivably, Giuliani might have beaten Barack Obama; but he didn’t get past the primaries. Not. Even. Close.

In 2007, with the 9/11 attacks still fresh in voters’ minds, Giuliani was considered the candidate to beat. But his personal became the political and, ultimately, he met with outright rejection. He never won a single nominating contest; heck, he barely entered them.

Giuliani bet everything on the Florida primary, the eighth Republican nominating contest of the season. He lost, and before January 2008 was over, Giuliani was history.

Bad experiences, however, can mean lessons learned, and Christie’s operation is populated by former Giuliani aides. Mike DuHaime, who managed Giuliani’s run, is Christie’s chief political strategist. Bill Stepien is Christie’s deputy chief of staff, having done a stint as Giuliani’s field director and managing Christie’s victorious 2009 campaign.

Still, the same fate may await Christie because politics isn’t just about policy—it is also about persona. Undoubtedly, Giuliani’s social moderation put him at odds with a conservative Republican Party. However, Rudy’s unvarnished outer-borough inquisitorial mien and devil-may-care social life also made him an ill fit for the GOP, a party whose center of cultural gravity lies within the Bible Belt and America’s sunnier suburbs.

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