Another week, another set of primaries—and soon enough, undoubtedly, another cascade of speculations about the prospect of a brokered convention. Predictions of an unpredictable fight-to-the-finish have become an unfortunate refrain—not to say, cliché—of our presidential election campaigns. Enough!
The day started badly for Mitt Romney, as he saw even his trusted surrogate Chris Christie urge him on national television to release his tax returns. Yet to the rescue has ridden an even more influential voice, making the National Greatness argument for withholding the returns, which comes down to arguing that it is somehow TMI, almost akin to an unwanted-glimpse of a naked limb, for us to learn that Romney pays only 15 percent in federal income taxes.
KEENE, N.H. -- If Jon Huntsman, Jr.
MEREDITH, N.H. -- There are two days still left to go before the polls close in New Hampshire, but Mitt Romney is on a victory lap. At his rally today in Rochester, he brought on stage not only his wife and rock-jawed sons but also their lovely wives and picture-perfect kids, as if it was already the election night party. And he has embarked on what certainly looks like the auditioning of possible running mates. This evening, he appeared with Chris Christie.
Okay, folks, I'm going to make a concession. After repeatedly defending in this space my current cover story arguing that Mitt Romney is more temperamental than his robotic reputation suggests, I am going to admit that Mitt-frontations, as his sons call his flare-ups, are relatively mild stuff on the Richter scale of angry politicians.
Now that Chris Christie has plighted his troth to Mitt Romney, who will Sarah Palin endorse? According to The Hill, husband Todd has been fielding requests from the GOP presidential hopefuls. "I look forward to working with them in order to help them maybe articulate their message in more detail," La Palin said on Fox, "so we can make that best decision." Palin may find it difficult to locate a candidate she hasn't already insulted.
While the political circus kept spinning its what-might-have-beens around Chris Christie yesterday, there was an actual election going on in West Virginia, where Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who took over from Joe Manchin when he moved to the Senate, was up against Republican Bill Maloney.
May I be indulged a forbidden thought? Every now and then I wonder what future generations will make of our notions about what constitutes a Page One story. We live in an era of mind-blowing scientific discovery, virtually none of which ever makes the front page, even as every trivial twist and turn in the rococo political drama has a secure place as the lead story. Today, for example, the New York Times leads with the news that Chris Christie, who after all has been saying for some time now that he won't run for president ... won't run for president.
As soon as news leaked that Chris Christie was going to say (again) that he wasn’t running for president, the press immediately began beating itself up for paying any attention to the drama in New Jersey.
I'll leave it to the pundits to decide what will happen in the Republican primary now that Chris Christie has decided to keep his talents in Trenton. What does seem worth some thought, though, is what we won't see happen that we likely would have if Christie had gotten in: a full rekindling of the war over public employee unions. The issue has receded somewhat in the public consciousness since the showdowns in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere earlier this year, even as the fight carries on in several states.