What the GOP can learn from Chris Christie

 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R, will likely win big in his reelection contest on Tuesday. His campaign is quick to point out that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 700,000 in a state President Obama won by 17 points last year. If he clears 50 percent, it will be the first time in 28 years a Republican will have done that.

Naturally, then, the purity crowd’s ire is raised. All that support. See, he’s not a real Republican! Well, that’s not much of an exaggeration. The ability to project to a wide, diverse electorate means that Christie, almost certain to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, brings with him a broader electorate not accessible to the right wing. Rather than bellyache about his diverse base of support, Republicans might learn a thing or two, or eight:

1. Don’t show up in minority communities only at election time. For four years Christie has been going to minority communities, focusing on improving inner-city schools, strengthening neighborhood safety and building alliances. Republicans have to show up and represent minority communities even when those voters don’t support them. It’s a long-term proposition that takes sincere and sustained effort.

2. Make the emotional connection with voters. Hurricane Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime event, even for New Jersey, the way 9/11 was for New York. Like Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Christie literally embraces voters.

3. Don’t be a phony. Christie’s favorite phrase, “I am who I am,” should be every candidate’s mantra.

4. Do something. Christie has an actual record to which he can point. He knows they want elected leaders to do things for them, whether it is cut taxes or get the beach cleaned up.

5. Humor helps. A candidate doesn’t have to be a stand-up comic, but he or she can relate via humor. Self-deprecating humor is the best way of showing humility and good cheer.

6. Take the jargon and the process-talk out of campaigning.

7. Don’t talk political philosophy. If you have to tell voters how conservative you are or justify policies on ideological grounds, you are in trouble.

8. Be an optimist.

That so many GOP officials and candidates don’t get these basics explains, in part, why the GOP brand is so damaged.

© 2013, The Washington Post

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