I bring this up because last week I pointed to a Quinnipiac poll which showed New Jersey more or less split on Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and split on whether he was a "bully" or a fighter for their interests. They opposed his spending cuts but approved of his pitched battles against the state's entrenched unions. All of this stood out because, outside of New Jersey, Christie is becoming a beloved conservative star. Talk to a plugged-in conservative activist and he'll rattle off the list of accomplishments -- changing the balance of the state Supreme Court, massive spending reductions, bringing Democrats on board with a salary cap for public employees, and -- oh yes -- endless YouTube videos of him dressing down his enemies.
That's not a "no." Green declined his interest in a third party bid as soon as Nader finished speaking, and Hightower isn't the kind of name you drop if you're actually looking at a political successor. Nader, who will turn 78 in 2012, began the Obama era by asking whether the first black president would become an "uncle tom for the corporations," and followed that up with a utopian novel (of disputable literary merit) about billionaires saving the world from conservatives. He is, in other words, a flawed vessel for whatever progressive anger against Democrats exists in 2012. But he's not ruling out a run. And at least one current tea party leader has experience in helping him get onto the ballot.
"I would reinstate the Mexico City policy," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told me Wednesday, removing an uncertainty of his own creation. Promoting abortion with international family planning funds is one of "a thousand things we shouldn't be spending money on."
I think everyone's a winner here -- Daniels gets a (probably expected) moment of McCain-like straight talk endearing him to the less-than-socially-conservative press corps, while Huckabee gets to attack what is basically a non-existent threat.
I'm struck with the sense that Daniels is a perfect tea party representative -- unconcerned with the details of foreign policy while broadly supportive of Republican ideas, bored by social issues, and very annoyed with the way Republicans tried to wedge Medicare cuts against the Democrats during the health care debate. Klein:
That's a strategy Gingrich has more or less mastered -- some reporters still have the stubs of plane tickets they bought to cover the former speaker's 2007 "Solutions Day," where hints were dropped that he would run for president... and where, in front of many TV cameras, he announced that he wasn't running.