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Week In News: Chris Christie For President? Still No


We're back with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.



I'm 100 percent certain I'm not going to run. I don't want to run. I don't feel like I'm ready to run. First, you have to have in your heart, you got to want it more than anything else. More than anything else. I don't want it that badly.

MARTIN: That was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from a montage of campaign denials assembled by Politico. James Fallows of The Atlantic joins us for a look behind the headlines, as he does most Saturdays. Today we find him on the road. Hey, Jim.

JAMES FALLOWS: Hello, Rachel, nice to talk to you.

MARTIN: Thanks for being with us. So up until this week, at least, Chris Christie has been pretty clear on this. He does not intend to join the field of Republican candidates, even though all kinds of his supporters keep pushing him to do so. Why is there still such a clamor for him to get into this race?

I should tell you first, I think it says something good about Governor Christie that he's that clear about the difficulty of running for president, which is about the hardest civilian activity anybody can do. And I think the clamoring for him among a number of Republicans suggests both the ancient human tendency of the grass is always greener. You think somebody who's not available must be better than the ones whose flaws you know.

FALLOWS: And also, the particular tensions within the Republican Party and the Republican field this year, where the person who seems the most logical candidate, the one with the strongest background in campaigning, that is Governor Romney, has a lot of serious critics within the party. So I think that tension we're also seeing in this hope for a savior from outside.

MARTIN: So, Jim, there's another political war going on. Florida's Republican Party just announced that it is moving the state's primary up to January 31st, which is ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire, despite the GOP's threats to strip Florida of half of its delegates if it does that. So how do these primary politics affect the race?

FALLOWS: It's worth noting how much earlier the whole process has been getting over time. Twenty years ago, when Bill Clinton was launching his run, it was only about this time in 1991 that he even announced, and he was seen as relatively early. And I think one of the main affects it means is that the window for anybody else getting into the Republican field is closing very rapidly. You have to raise a lot of money. You have to field operations in a number of states. So if a new person is going to be available, that person is going to have to appear pretty quickly.

MARTIN: I want to move on to national security issues. Today, NATO and Afghan forces captured a senior leader in the Haqqani network. That's the group that is said to be responsible for a spate of attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

But yesterday was the big headline. That's when American-born front man for al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki, he was killed in a U.S. drone strike. Now, Jim, when Osama bin Laden was killed, no doubt, that gave President Obama a political bump. But the Awlaki killing is more complicated because he's an American citizen, right?

FALLOWS: Certainly, yes. And there are serious constitutional issues that I think the administration will have to engage about the rationale, the philosophy and the implications of this kind of strike on an American citizen. On the strictly political implications, I think we see in this case a heightening of the predicament for President Obama over the last year and a half or two years, where in most national security issues and foreign policy issues he's actually had one success after another.

But because the economy has been such a drain on the real circumstances of Americans and also his political prospects, this success is not likely to address that other problem which is his main political challenge.

MARTIN: This is the latest in a string of U.S. drone strikes that have taken out more than seven al-Qaida leaders over the past few months. At this point, the United States really is the only country that has this kind of technology. Wondering your thoughts on this technology moving forward.

FALLOWS: I don't want to be melodramatic about this, but it's worth recognizing - and especially at this moment of time - that a technology and a technique that is entirely on the American strategic and tactical side right now is not guaranteed to remain that way in the long run.

The history of technology becomes dispersed, it becomes miniaturized. It gets into lots of peoples hands. And so the idea that right now, the U.S. is the only power that can eliminate people, even in civilian areas all around the world, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, we may see that same power used against us by states or non-state actors. And so it's worth projecting our imaginations forward to think about problems we may be dealing with later on.

MARTIN: James Fallows is national correspondent with The Atlantic. You can read his blog at jamesfallowsttheAtlantic.com. Jim, thanks so much.

FALLOWS: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.