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Rick Robinson: Christie May Be Staple of Our Political Diet, but Paul Could Eat His Lunch

As a card-carrying member of the Jovial Fat Guys Club, I normally take great delight when one of my fellow fraternity brothers gets into the news for something other than winning a hot dog eating contest.

Our meetings follow Robert’s Rules of Order and are very structured. Agenda items for old and new business are followed by my favorite part of the meeting – for the good of the order. In this portion of the meeting we usually discuss new restaurants, the virtues of bacon flavored ice cream and fellow brothers in the fat who have made it into the larger than life limelight.

In partisan squabbles, our members have trouble straddling the fence. We have large opinions on both sides of the political debate. Historically, we have looked to the life of William Howard Taft for inspiration. In recent years, Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure as the Grand Poo-Bah of New Jersey has been the staple of our political diet.

However, Gov. Christie’s public war of words with Sen. Rand Paul – where Christie has tagged Paul as a pork spender – has caused our group to reassess our blind allegiance. Calling Kentucky’s skinny junior senator someone who brings home the pork is like labeling a wheat bagel a cream-filled doughnut.

Mmmmmm – cream-filled doughnut.

Who’s Christie trying to impress?

The Paul versus Christie toss-down began with the governor criticizing the senator’s Libertarian views on the NSA and quickly moved to a debate on overall federal spending.

Gov. Christie’s strategy of attacking the Libertarian-leaning party base via Sen. Paul’s votes was the fodder of weekend news shows. Talking heads to the left and right went through great lengths to use the dust-up as a metaphor for the divide in the Republican Party and precursor to the 2016 presidential primaries.

All seemed to forget one important fact – Chris Christie is in the middle of a New Jersey re-election bid. The spat plays well to home-state voters who have suffered through tough times not of their making.

More than setting the stage for a civil war to be fought in the caucuses of Iowa, Christie’s attack actually finds its campaign roots in New Jersey through his effort to remain employed as the state’s governor. It’s likely more about Trenton than Des Moines.

Gov. Christie is known for his no-holds barred approach to politics. His frank approach is refreshing to many. In the day and age of pre-programmed, pretty-boy pols, his scruffy demeanor is invigorating.

But, while the fight with Paul may pop Christie’s numbers in the Garden State, it’s a questionable national strategy to blow raspberries at legions of party-faithful who, since the time of Barry Goldwater, have believed that less government is better government. If Christie hits the national trail, he’ll discover questioning the constitutional basis of action prior to federal intervention plays well in early primary states.

If this is about 2016 – Christie better bone up on his debate skills

I met Rand Paul shortly after he won the right to represent the GOP on Kentucky’s general election ballot for U.S. Senate. In an article following the election, I surmised that Paul was, “thoughtful beyond the normal party generated talking points used by other pols,” and he was “what we call in politics a ‘true believer.’”

Paul won because he was willing to talk frankly about his politically philosophy at a time when voters were yearning for such a discussion. Unlike Christie, he does not speak in quick sound bites. If anything, Paul goes to the other end of the spectrum and tries to explain his positions with more depth than some voters want to hear.

I don’t doubt that Chris Christie is also a “true believer.” I’m just not sure what he believes in besides the virtues of New Jersey. Of course, that’s what campaigns are for and, if Christie and Paul square off, it will likely be enlightening and entertaining.

Like Gov. Christie, Sen. Paul speaks his mind. Unlike Christie, Paul’s facts are tight.

Christie’s sharp barbs about excessive pork spending in Kentucky come with an asterisk. Federal funds spent in Kentucky include expenditures for two major military bases and the federal retirees that remain in the Commonwealth following their years of service.

A shoot-from-the-hip statement that plays well in a home state campaign could easily be used to paint Christie as antimilitary on the national stage.

If Gov. Christie wants to compete with Sen. Paul on the national stage, he must show he’s ready for prime time, and with solid facts, be ready to explain his philosophy of federal intervention.

If Gov. Christie fails in this task, Sen. Paul will eat his lunch.

Mmmmmmm – lunch.

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Rick Robinson is a Northern Kentucky lawyer and author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, “Manifest Destiny,” has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival. This first appeared at

Photo: Sen. Rand Paul