Salon makes an unconvincing case against Christie having base appeal in the Republican Party:
Immigration : Last year, he lashed out at political leaders who "demagogue" immigration, argued that the issue should be handled by the federal government (and not individual states, like Arizona), and called for a "clear" path to citizenship for illegal immigrants now in the country. He went much farther in 2008, back when he was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, telling residents at a town meeting that "[b]eing in this country without proper documentation is not a crime" and that his office had no business dealing with illegal immigration cases.
First, the current right-wing position is not a conventional Federalist argument that immigration ought to handled at the state level for the same reasons that apply to, for example, education. The right-wing view is that Obama has abdicated the Federal responsibility to secure the borders, so states need to be given latitude to fill the void.
Here, for example, is Michelle Bachmann at the Sept 23 debate in Orlando:
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Congresswoman Bachmann, as you well know, a number of states are trying to crack down on illegal immigration. We got a bunch of questions on immigration like this one from Tim Emerson, this is a text question so you don't need to look up there. Tim Emerson of California.
He wrote this, "would you support each state enforcing the immigration laws since the federal government is not?"
Congresswoman, could you answer Tim's question? And if your answer is yes, how do you square that with the constitution which says that congress has the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization?
BACHMANN: Well, the reason why he's asking this question is because the federal government has failed the American people and has failed the states. It's reprehensible that President Obama has sued the state of Arizona and the governor of Arizona for trying to protect the people in Arizona. That's wrong.
BACHMANN: As president of the United States, I would do what my job would demand of me. That's to uphold the sovereignty of the United States of America.
But as Salon eventually notes it is not just what you say, it is how you say it:
That said, there's another reason for Perry's struggles, one that may offer Christie a glimmer of hope: He's really bad at explaining himself. Take his statement during last week's debate that those who object to the children of illegal immigrants receiving in-state tuition "don't have a heart." This was needlessly defiant, something that made it much tougher for conservatives who disagree with his policy to give Perry the benefit of the doubt. There's reason to believe that Christie wouldn't make this kind of mistake. He's an uncommonly talented communicator, quick on his feet and adept at fielding any question, no matter how hostile, and shifting the discussion to an area where he's comfortable. You probably wouldn't see him suffer through a moment like this in a debate. So it's at least possible that Christie is a strong enough salesman that he could persuade the right to look the other way when it comes to his various crimes against conservatism.
As best I can tell, Christie has not committed himself to a Bush/Obama style "Grand Compromise" on immigration, in which border security, workplace enforcement and a "path" to citenship are resolved simultaneously, after which border security and workplace enforcement are ignored by the Feds, as in 1986. Consequently, I suspect Christie could talk himslef past any immigration problems.
Well, this is a reminder of how clever Obama has been in sitting on his law firm billing records.