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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bachmann's Iowa Pledge Mess Opens Door For Chris Christie

A lack of organizational and personal discipline can be fatal to your business, or your political aspirations.

Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum each signed a 14-point traditional marriage pledge, which contained some questionable and controversial statements on different issues.  Both candidates now are backing off the statements while expressing support for the traditional one man-one woman marriage that was the core of the pledge.

This mistake could be fatal to either candidate.  It shows a recklessness, a lack of due diligence, in eagerly signing onto a document without fully reading it -- an explanation which either defies belief or shows the campaigns to be in such chaos that someone deserves to be fired.

Assuming the candidates actually read the entire pledge document, they are fully responsible for its comments.  The failure to have read it fully -- if that is the case -- is fatal in my opinion, showing a terminal lack of basic organizational judgment.  If the candidates did read it and now backtrack from its controversial statements, that shows either poor judgment in terms of the issues, or a gutlessness.  Admit the statements are wrong and admit the mistake in signing the pledge; in short, be an adult and own up to the mistake.

Even worse would be the explanation that the candidates succumbed to pressure to sign the pledge in order to gain or retain support from some Republican groups.

Part of being presidential timbre is the ability to withstand pressure to do things you do not want or should not do. These amateur hour mistakes show neither Bachmann nor Santorum to be worthy candidates for the highest office in the land.

The mistakes also show why the "window of opportunity" for Chris Christie remains open for 2012.  Despite his denials, all signs point to his eagerness to be tapped.  He is building political equity, despite his home state problems (below 50% approval, a sign of vulnerability for any incumbent) and propensity to make unnecessary enemies with bombastic attacks. 

While Christie can be baited -- a different and also potentially fatal political liability that could quickly doom his presidential aspirations -- it is doubtful he would make the dumb mistake of Bachmann and Santorum.

However, given the lack of a clear-cut Republican consensus candidate and the somewhat plateauing support of frontrunner besides Mitt Romney, who remains unable to "pull away" from the pack, even a glass-jawed Christie could be a formidable primary challenger and even party nominee.

He has his weaknesses in both policy and persona.  However, Barack Obama is no Buster Douglas.  The one killer punch may never come.   On strictly strategic grounds, Christie should be considering a 2012 run.

Eric Dixon is a New York election lawyer, political strategist and crisis management consultant.

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