Why the Kochs Want to Make Chris Christie President
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After two other audience members used their question time to implore him to run, Christie replied he was certain that when Ronald Reagan embarked on the road to the presidency, the man who would become the 40th president "knew in his heart that he was called" to the position. "This is all I'll say about that tonight -- is that I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it, and it touches me," Christie said. He then went on to say that he doesn't at all consider it a burden to be constantly asked if he will run for president. Christie said, "Anybody that has an ego large enough to say, 'Oh, please -- please, please stop asking me to be leader of the free world -- it's such a burden...what kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say, 'Stop, stop'?"
Between Romney and Perry, Romney is seen as the guy with the better chance to win in a general election, simply because of his demeanor and business background. Yet Romney's chances of winning the nomination are not great among a heavily evangelical primary electorate that rejects both the health-care reform program (which he's since claimed as "a mulligan") that Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, and his Mormon faith.
As a Southern Baptist who has publicly ruminated over the possibility of his state seceding from the union because of "Obamacare," Perry is better poised to win the primary, but less likely to win the swing voters that will be needed to take the White House in 2012. And even among those primary voters, Perry has some ideological problems because of his provision of state-subsidized higher education to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, and his implementation of a mandatory vaccination program (since halted) for school age girls to prevent infection by a sexually-transmitted disease.
Romney's creation of Massachusetts' health-care reform program, with its mandated coverage, likely rankles the big-money types far more than Perry's provision of in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants. To big-money players such as the Kochs, Home Depot founder Steve Lagone, and the roster of hedge-fund honchos and financiers chomping at the prospect of a Christie run, antipathy to immigrants is not a primary issue. (It's simply useful as a means for rallying angry white people to the polls to vote for an anti-labor and anti-regulatory agenda.)
But neither man has done the one thing that truly excites David Koch and his fellow deep-pocketed Christie fans: take on the public sector unions in a big way.
With a talent for bluster, Christie blew into office in 2009 on a narrow victory, and set about to right New Jersey's budget woes on the backs of public employees -- cutting the state's funding for municipal public safety costs and its contribution to local education budgets, while instituting a cap on the property taxes imposed by municipalities. He suggested that municipalities opt out of the civil service system altogether. And he demanded a rollback of an unfunded increase in the pension payouts to retired state employees, as well as a raise in the retirement age.
He's best known, however, for his battle with the teachers' unions, and the hand badly played by local labor leaders who never expected the governor to take the battle to YouTube, in videos of combative town hall meetings, in suburbs that lay beyond the state capital of Trenton, in which teachers were made to look unreasonably demanding in an economy that was spiraling downward. Christie's cuts ultimately resulted in the layoffs of some 10,000 teachers in the nation's most densely populated state. But Christie's bullying manner against the teachers and their unions played brilliantly to the rage felt by middle-class whites who felt they were getting a raw deal in a bad economy, when compared with public-sector workers.