Former Governors McAuliffe, Christie Take on U.S. Political Climate at MBA Annual19

Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan (l), with former Govs. Terry McAuliffe and Chris Christie at the MBA Annual Convention Oct. 29.

AUSTIN, TEXAS–In today’s increasingly polarized and volatile political climate, most trade associations might avoid having pundits such as conservative-leaning former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and liberal-leaning former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe share the same stage. To which the Mortgage Bankers Association says, “hold my beer.”

Despite their sharp political differences, Christie and McAuliffe have been friends for years. During a lively session here at the MBA Annual Convention & Expo, ably moderated by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan, Christie and McAuliffe entertained attendees with humor and gentle barbs.

Jumping right into things, Brennan opened the discussion on the impeachment process currently facing President Trump. Christie said he expects little to change even with the likelihood of an impeachment and trial.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to get 20 Republican senators to vote for impeachment in an election year,” Christie said. “With an election coming up, it’s going to be very easy for those senators to say, ‘this is a decision for the voters.’”

McAuliffe disagreed, saying the pressure on Senate Republicans is strong. “The Republican Party is going to have to make a hard decision–do they want Donald Trump to be at the head of the Republican ticket?” he said. “And that is what is going to be the determining factor for Senate Republicans. If they ride this pony off into the sunset, they’re going to lose the White House and Congress.”

McAuliffe noted voters are “electrified” by the 2020 election. “A lot of people who didn’t vote in 2016 woke up the morning after Election Day and said ‘Holy…cow,” he said. “And the reality is, if 77,000 more people had voted in 2016, the election would have ended up with a different result. If those 77,000 people vote in 2020, there will be a Democratic President.”

Not so fast, Christie said. “A lot of people didn’t like either 2016 candidate, and they ended up voting for Trump instead of Hillary Clinton,” he said. “If the Democrats come up with a left-leaning candidate from the [Bernie] Sanders-[Elizabeth] Warren camp [in 2018], then the entire nation remains in play.”

Christie added regardless of Trump’s personal conduct, “there are going to be a lot of other factors that go into voters’ decision on who to vote for,” he said. “Trump seems to be able to survive everything.”

“Trump has lost most independent and suburban women,” McAuliffe said. “Look at what has happened to Democratic turnout since the 2016 elections. He has put himself in a tough position.”

“But the survival of the Republican Party is at stake, and that will bring out Republican voters in droves if the candidate is either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders,” Christie countered. “But this is not going to be a referendum on Trump–it’s going to be a choice.”

McAuliffe and Christie agreed on one thing: in the 2020 election, women will be the deciding factor. And they also agreed that the 2020 elections will be the “ugliest” in years.

“We’ll survive,” Christie said. “It will be angry, negative and ugly. But we’ll survive.”