By Rich Zeoli

By Rich Zeoli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Where does Christie go from here…

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Before I get to that, here were my predictions the morning after the ABC New Hampshire debate: Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Jeb!, Rubio, Christie, Carson, Fiorina.

I was wrong about Carson and Fiorina, but I blame that on dyslexia.

Okay now that I get that out of my system, and thank you for indulging me, let’s talk about the Governor of New Jersey.

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Chris Christie is a man of enormous political talent, but his 2016 presidential aspirations are over. He won’t be the Vice Presidential candidate, but he will be a very useful surrogate attack dog on the campaign trail. Will he endorse Jeb? I think he will for a couple of reasons. Christie’s people are Bush people. His chief strategist played a significant role in President George W. Bush’s reelection. Christie’s closest friend and advisor ran the George HW Bush effort in the Garden State in 1980. Most significantly, President George W. Bush elevated him to United States Attorney for New Jersey. Did you know he was a former federal prosecutor?

That last piece is the most consequential. After a devastating loss for county office in the late 1990’s, Christie literally placed six out of six, his political career was considered over. Even though he had never been a prosecutor, President Bush nominated him as US Attorney and the rest is history. There’s loyalty, and loyalty matters to a guy like Christie. Plus, a hypothetical President Jeb Bush would happily name Chris Christie as United States Attorney General.

There will be lots of postmortems written about the Christie campaign but at the end of the day, it comes down to timing. His moment was 2012. Like Clarence the Angel, let’s take a look at what a 2012 campaign would have meant for Christie. The problems that beleaguered his candidacy in 2016 never would have been issues back then…

There was no Donald Trump to overshadow his ‘Telling It Like It Is’ bluster. So he was the controversial candidate calling people “idiots” and telling people to “sit down and shut up.” His supporters were the ones cheering because someone was finally smashing political correctness in the face. His soldiers never caused those traffic problems in Fort Lee because they didn’t care about the endorsement of a small time North Jersey mayor in a blue state like New Jersey. He never “hugged” President Obama because he didn’t let his opponent anywhere near the SuperStorm Sandy damage days before the election. He had that moment all to himself to show America how he, Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, handles crisis.

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Timing is everything and the time for Christie to end the 2016 campaign is upon us. But don’t count him out. He’s a young man and he has a boundless supply of political talent. He’ll continue to play a significant role in this race as a surrogate and should a Democrat win, he will flirt with another run in 2020. Perhaps the timing will be more fortuitous.