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First Thoughts: Obama vs. Christie

Contrasting Obama and Christie -- patience vs. impatience, coming together vs. fighting, jobs vs. deficit reduction… Obama does local TV interviews in districts/states represented by Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan… Walker’s union-rights dust-up in WI… Scott’s high-speed rail dust-up in FL… Kasich’s “idiot” dust-up in OH… Obama touts Kaine for VA SEN… GOP seizes on stimulus anniversary… And Obama heads to San Francisco to meet with Jobs and Zuckerberg.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R- N.J. speaks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Wednesday.

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Obama vs. Christie: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) -- once again -- said he wouldn’t run for president in 2012 in his speech in DC yesterday. (“My wife will kill me,” he quipped.) But if he did, he would automatically become the true anti-Obama in the field, especially when it comes to style, tone, and governing philosophy. One man is skinny; the other one is not. One is a former constitutional law lecturer; the other is an ex-prosecutor. One is cool; the other is red-hot. One campaigned on hope, change, and bringing the country together; the other’s slogan might be, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” And the stark contrast, which Politics Daily’s Jill Lawrence also touches on, becomes clear when you compare what Obama said at his press conference on Tuesday with what Christie said yesterday. It's truly striking.

*** Patience vs. impatience: Here’s Obama about talking about patience: "Let’s face it, you guys are pretty impatient. If something doesn’t happen today, then the assumption is it’s just not going to happen… I think that there’s a tendency for us to assume that if it didn’t happen today it’s not going to happen.” Here’s Christie yesterday: "In New Jersey, they call me impatient. They call me lots of other things. I think it's time for some impatience."

*** Coming together vs. fighting: Here’s Obama on the importance of the parties coming together. "So this is going to be a process in which each side, in both chambers of Congress, go back and forth and start trying to whittle their differences down until we arrive at something that has an actual chance of passage.” Here’s Christie: "I fight for the things that mater. Some people say I'm combative. I'm fighting."

*** Jobs vs. deficit reduction: And for Obama, job creation is his No. 1 goal. “We measure progress by the success of our people -- by the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer,” Obama said in his State of the Union. For Christie, it’s cutting the deficit. "Fiscal discipline is important for New Jersey and America… We have to fund what we need, and we have to cut what we like."

*** Big things vs. big things: Christie, by the way, delivered this jab at Obama yesterday. “I think I heard the president’s State of the Union speech, America was about doing the big things,” he said. “I think it’s important to note it because of what he says the big things are -- high-speech rail, high-speed internet, electric cars on the road. That is the candy of American politics.” Actually, when Obama concluded his SOTU talking about “big things,” he was discussing the American Dream, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship. “We're a nation that says, ‘I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.’ ‘I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree.’ ‘I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.’ ‘I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will.’ We do big things.” Bottom line on Christie and 2012: He will be sitting out there as a shadow over the field. And if October rolls around and Romney's floundering, Pawlenty's struggling, and Barbour's not connecting, watch for the Christie chatter to pop -- again.

*** Obama’s affiliate interviews: With the House set to vote on final passage of the Continuing Resolution – which doesn't have much chance in the Senate, according to Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad -- Obama conducted interviews yesterday with local TV stations in states/districts represented by GOP leaders John Boehner (Cincinnati), Eric Cantor (Richmond), and Paul Ryan (Milwaukee). On Cantor, Obama told the Richmond VA station, "He is now in a position of responsibility, which means he has to work with me on the budget. We have to reduce spending in an intelligent way, so it doesn't take away from our kids. My hope is that we can come to some sort of agreement. What they really want to see is people acting like grown-ups." About Ryan, Obama said, “I think that Congressman Ryan will have an opportunity to work with me to solve these problems. So much of what happens in Washington is back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans. And what I've said to Congressman Ryan and everybody is, ‘Let’s work together. If you have plan, put it forward.'"

*** The union-rights controversy in WI: Speaking of Wisconsin, remember when we wrote how much more ideological some of the new GOP governors are (Scott Walker of WI, Rick Scott of FL, John Kasich of OH), versus some of the more recognizable GOP governors of the 1990s (George W. Bush of TX, Jeb Bush of FL, John Engler of MI, Tommy Thompson of WI)? Well, Walker’s move to strip union rights for state workers and to cut pension benefits has generated plenty of attention and protest in Wisconsin. In his interview with the local Wisconsin TV station, Obama said, “Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions. And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the pivotal state Senate vote on the GOP measure could come today.

*** The high-speed rail controversy in FL: In Florida, Scott is involved in his own dust-up. The St. Pete Times: “Gov. Rick Scott's decision Wednesday to reject $2.4 billion that would have helped finance high-speed rail drew a swift rebuke from the politicians and business interests who had pushed for the project. ‘It's a terrible decision, truly the worst decision I've ever seen by a governor in my 26 years in public life,’ said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. ‘It's wrong on so many levels, where do I begin?’” More: “Scott's decision was cheered by Karen Jaroch, the chairwoman of the Tea Party-supported Tampa 9-12 Project, which successfully campaigned against a Hillsborough light rail referendum last year. ‘I think it saves the taxpayers of Florida and the nation a lot of money,’ she said.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich at an Ohio news conference in January.

*** The “idiot” controversy in OH: And here’s the controversy that Kasich is facing in Ohio. “With Gov. John Kasich already taking on public employee unions, the revelation today that last month he called a Columbus police officer an ‘idiot’ for giving him a traffic ticket in 2008 touched off a firestorm of reaction,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. ‘We're not idiots, we're out enforcing the law that he as governor has asked us to go out and enforce," said Jim Gilbert, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 9, the union that represents Columbus police officers… Court records show that Kasich was pulled over Jan. 8, 2008, on northbound Rt. 315 near the interchange with Henderson Road for not moving over for a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. He pleaded guilty and paid an $85 fine three days later. Kasich's comments came during a ‘staff meeting’ the governor held with most of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's employees Jan. 21.”

*** Following the Christie playbook -- to an extent: Walker, Scott, and Kasich all seem to be TRYING to take a page from the Christie playbook. But there’s one difference. From time to time, Christie has gone out of his way to praise Democrats (whether it’s Obama or Newark Mayor Cory Booker). Yet we haven’t seen that from Walker, Scott or Kasich. They are much more acting like ideological warriors within their own party. Christie seems to go out of his way to try and carve a FULLY anti-Washington anti-both parties persona, even while talking the conservative talk. *** UPDATE *** Walker's communications director emails First Read, "Gov. Walker greeted the president and attended an event with the president when he visited Wisconsin, and he went out of his way to highlight areas where he agreed with the president in media interviews. Just last week, the governor was on Wisconsin public radio with Arne Duncan talking about the need to rewrite [No Child Left Behind]."

*** Obama touts Kaine for VA SEN: There’s more and more buzz that DNC Chairman (and former Virginia Gov.) Tim Kaine just might run for Jim Webb’s Senate seat. Here’s what President Obama told the local Richmond TV station yesterday. “I think he will be a great senator. Either way, he’s as good of a friend [as] he is mine. I think he will make the decision on where he can have the most influence.” We’ll say this, the longer Kaine doesn’t make up his mind, the tougher it will be for him to say no. If Kaine jumps into the Virginia Senate race, who becomes the next DNC chairman? Look no further than the list of unemployed state Dems from 2010. One intriguing name -- former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. (It probably wouldn’t hurt Obama in that battleground state…)

*** Anniversary day: Today, plenty of Republicans -- but not a single Democrat so far -- are reminding us that today is the second anniversary of Obama signing his economic stimulus into law. Here’s the RNC: “An anniversary of failure.” And here’s a Web video from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. While many economists and many studies have argued that the stimulus was an economic success (in alleviating the worst downturn since the Great Depression), it turned out to be a political and PR failure for the Democrats.

*** Obama’s day: On this anniversary of the stimulus, Obama this morning discusses reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law with bipartisan members of Congress. Then, at 12:15 pm ET, he meets with House Democratic leaders. After that, he heads to San Francisco, where he’ll visit – at a private residence -- with Silicon Valley business leaders like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Eric Schmidt. By the way, his new jobs czar, Jeffrey Immelt of GE (NBC co-parent), will also be at the meeting.

Countdown Chicago’s mayoral election: 5 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 264 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 354 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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