November 6, 2013

A LACK OF FANATICISM:

Chris Christie Is Showing Conservatives How to Win (Ramesh Ponnuru, Nov 4, 2013, Bloomberg)

Another difference, though, is that Cuccinelli made his name as a conservative crusader, especially on social issues, where McDonnell made his as a bipartisan problem-solver. McDonnell's Democratic critics had to dig up a 20-year-old grad-school thesis he had written to make him look out of the mainstream; Cuccinelli's have more recent initiatives and statements to work with. Refusing to defend that record put Cuccinelli in the worst possible position.

He would probably have been better off restating his views while criticizing McAuliffe's own extremism. (McAuliffe refuses to say if he thinks partial-birth abortion should be legal, for instance.) That would have given conservatives more reason to come out to vote for Cuccinelli, and at the very least given moderates less reason to vote against him.

Cuccinelli may have hesitated because polls have shown him losing a significant number of votes to a third-party candidate running as a pro-choice libertarian. But even a lot of libertarian-leaning Republicans are willing to vote for pro-life candidates, as McDonnell's landslide proved.

Socially conservative positions on hot-button issues don't seem to be a deal-breaker even for the much more liberal voters of New Jersey. Christie has vetoed legislation to grant state recognition to same-sex marriage -- a judge later ordered it, though Christie briefly appealed -- and vetoed bills to fund Planned Parenthood five times.

He does not, however, seem obsessed by social issues: Democrats haven't gotten much mileage out of ads saying that his priorities are different from those of voters, as they have against Cuccinelli. Christie has also avoided taking unpopular socially conservative stands on issues that aren't live debates, and taken the occasional opportunity to soften his profile.

Posted by at November 6, 2013 4:45 AM
  

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