Commentary Magazine


Contentions

A Ryan-Christie Presidential Pact?

Via Stephen Hayes’ latest will-he-or-won’t-he pieces, comes this delicious tidbit that’s sure to get hearts fluttering a bit faster in the fiscal conservative world. A Paul Ryan-Chris Christie presidential pact, ensuring that one of them will run if the debt crisis isn’t properly addressed by any of the current candidates? Yes, really:

Ryan and Christie spoke for nearly an hour about the presidential race, according to four sources briefed on the conversation. The two men shared a central concern: The Republican field is not addressing the debt crisis with anything beyond platitudes.

Although the two men have not been especially close personally, their conversation about the campaign was blunt, and they agreed on a central point: If these issues are to get the kind of attention they deserve, one of the two men will have to run. One source called it a de facto pact, but another described it as a more informal understanding. Christie told Ryan what he has (usually) told others: He does not want to run.

Not that a Christie bid wouldn’t be enthusiastically welcomed, but his recent health scare and New Jersey credit-rating downgrade could pose problems for him. Plus, if the point is to provoke a national discussion about the debt crisis, it’s fitting for the architect of the Republican budget plan to sit at the head of the table.

Until last week, it was easy to dismiss a lot of the speculation as wishful thinking. But Hayes’ reporting dispels those doubts, and the silence from Ryan’s team in response to these stories also speaks volumes. Bill Kristol, whose unrelenting optimism on the subject has been unmatched (and contagious), chalks up the chances of a Ryan bid to 50-50. But unlike the current candidates, Ryan hasn’t sought out a presidential run; he needs a push. Last week, it turned into a figurative shove from certain corners of the conservative sphere. But will it be enough?