But to many he is seen as a centrist in a party that has steadily swung away from the center.
The same traits that make Christie popular in New Jersey and a potentially strong presidential candidate in a general election could keep him from winning anything beyond another four years in Trenton.
"Common sense sells. He's great on that. He's a great national candidate. He will be great in a general election, if he makes it that far," said CNN "Crossfire" host and Republican analyst S.E. Cupp. "The problem will be he will have to get through a primary."
CNN contributor and New York Times columnist Charles Blow agreed that Christie has some crossover appeal. But his appeal to moderates will hurt him with the hard right in his party.
"This is the kind of Republican that you could get more moderates behind. Maybe you could shave off a few Democrats," Blow said. "But you cannot escape the Republican primary process and that process is much more conservative than Republicans in general, and definitely much more conservative than the American populace and electorate."
But is Chris Christie really a centrist?
But to get to a general election, Christie needs to capture the nomination, which has favored conservative positions.
The Republican governor is anti-abortion -- a decision he made years ago. At a 2011 anti-abortion rally at the New Jersey statehouse, Christie said that "every life is precious and a gift from God."
Christie is also against same-sex marriage and lampooned the Supreme Court earlier this year for striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal benefits for same-sex spouses.
"I don't think he is a centrist," said Weingart, pointing out that many of his positions are conservative, despite that fact that both houses of the New Jersey legislature are controlled by Democrats.
"That may or may not be tempering the decisions he would make if he had Republican majorities in both houses," Weingart concluded.
Will his persona wear on voters?
The list of ways you could use to describe Christie is long: brash, unvarnished, confrontational, loud, and the list goes on.
He has been described as an "average joe," someone who speaks like many of the voters who will go to the ballot box and vote for him. That was clear when he Christie gave an answer about why he started the public argument with Paul.
"I was asked a question at a forum in Aspen and I gave an answer. I was asked a question at a forum in Aspen and I gave an answer," he said. "If you ask me a question, I give an answer. That's what people expect from people in public life."
Christie's directness, however, also comes with a downside.
"New Jersey voters take it with a grain of salt," Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Poll, said of Christie's forwardness. "That has certainly been attractive to voters outside New Jersey, but I am not sure it plays everywhere. If you go out to the Midwest, I think it has an appeal for a limited amount of time."
Murray said the bigger problem for Christie is whether or not he can maintain that bluntness in face of the tightly controlled world of presidential politics where a unscripted remark can send the front-runner back into the pack.
"We are now seeing decisions being made where running for president is at the front of his mind," Murray said, pointing to the vetoing the ban on guns and his decision on gay conversation therapy. "That, at some point, could undercut his image as being authentic."
That issue is one that illustrates the challenge of governing a state and running nationally, and in the end, winning - or not.