when the big dog barks, chris christie wins (in 2016).

To suggest Bill Clinton gave the best speech of his life tonight at the 2012 Democratic National Convention would not be hyperbole. This is not the breathless gushing of a sycophantic Kool-Aid™ drinker. Clinton’s nomination speech tonight is the rallying cry that everyone—Democrats and Republicans alike—will call the most pivotal turning point in the 2012 campaign. It is the speech everyone is talking about. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus should be doing cartwheels over this. Thanks to the Big Dog, people finally stopped #Eastwooding on Twitter.

Clinton electrified the room in Charlotte tonight the way no other speaker from either political party can match. For Republicans, the enthusiasm gap must resemble the Grand Canyon. The man Republicans loved to hate (until Obama was elected) came back to haunt them like a pesky ghost.

Love him or hate him, there is no politician alive today who commands and fills a spotlight as comfortably as Bill Clinton. He is in that rare place occupied by very few presidents whose very essence changes the air around them. The last politician to wield this much charisma and charm? Ronald Reagan. Before him, Jack Kennedy.

If Barack Obama wins the election in November—and it’s still a big ‘if’—pundits will point to Sept. 5, 2012 as the watershed moment when Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes took a fatal hit. He’s certainly not out of it; not by a long shot. His campaign needs to spend the next 5 – 7 days tamping down the Clinton Bounce that’s likely to show itself by next Wednesday.

But if they can’t slow it down, this will be the moment the Republicans quietly turn their attention to 2016 and anoint Chris Christie the GOP standard bearer. And Christie could win it running away.

Most Republicans already know the New Jersey governor has that rare “it” factor we see once in a generation. Many of them wanted Christie to run this year. He declined, opening the door for Mitt Romney and the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight to inflict their lunacy upon Americans for the next 12 months.

Christie’s detractors like to say he’s too gruff, too hot tempered and too impolite to be a serious candidate for the undecided voter. They dismiss Christie at their own peril. Little do they know, these traits are actually part of his charm. No, really.

Unlike Romney, who is over-handled by his campaign managers and eschews his true self, Christie embraces who he is and what he is and audiences admire him for it. Where Romney is stiff and always dancing to find the right answer, Christie lays it out there and says, “I dare you to not like this.”

Mark it down. If Obama wins re-election, I guarantee Chris Christie will be the Republican nominee in 2016. And he will have Bill Clinton to thank for that.

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