New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement today of Republican front-runner Donald Trump may just elicit a big yawn from Second Amendment activists who have never really trusted the rotund Garden State politician on the subject of gun rights.
Surprisingly, after last night’s contentious GOP debate during which contenders Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fully engaged the billionaire businessman, a majority believes Trump actually won that event. Unscientific polling at the Drudge Report, Conservative Firing Line and elsewhere, have Trump enjoying a comfortable lead.
Gun owners didn’t warm up to Christie, and his history in New Jersey on guns probably explains why. There is an argument that he could not accomplish much against a far-left dominated legislature, but critics assert that he could have used his bully pulpit to advocate for changes.
The firearms community is divided on the front-runners. Cruz is considered by many to be the “pure warrior” while Rubio seems to enjoy more support from establishment Republicans, and Trump apparently scares the bejeezus out of them. He habitually mentions his intention to protect the Second Amendment if he is elected – a far different approach than Hillary Rodham Clinton’s war on guns campaign cornerstone – but one might wonder how much of that is the showman talking.
And now with Christie’s endorsement, gun owners are hardly rushing to the Trump camp. Cruz and Rubio also have strong Second Amendment credentials; good enough that neither seems compelled to continually remind anybody about it.
Some might suggest that Christie’s move today is merely to remain relevant in a race that he quit days ago because he couldn’t pull double-digit support from Republican voters in the primaries so far. Maybe he’s hoping to get a cabinet spot if Trump is elected, but The Donald probably would not tap Christie as a running mate because that ticket would not appeal to conservative voters in the South or West who have had quite enough of politicians from the Northeast, including Clinton, Bernie Sanders and John Kerry.
The Seattle Times is running a story on the Christie announcement, in which the Associated Press portrays it as a “powerhouse endorsement.” Christie did have some shining and brilliant moments on the campaign trail, criticizing gridlock in Congress and taking jabs at Beltway insiders. His brand of abrasiveness seems a little easier to take than Trump’s. And today he got to make a speech that will get him some face time in the news, which he may be missing.
But none of this is likely to impress the hardcore gun folks. Trump has not been their first choice from the outset – Cruz seems to hold that ground – and if Trump wins the nomination, he’s going to have to work awfully hard to convince them not to sit out the election or vote as spoilsports for some non-starter third party candidate.
Perhaps all Trump will need to do, if he becomes the GOP nominee, is remind gun owners that if they balk in November, they’re going to have a Clinton in the White House again, and she already considers them the enemy.
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