(AP) Gov. Chris Christie's decision to stop fighting the legality of same-sex marriages in New Jersey paves the way for gays to wed in the Democratic-leaning state. But it also reflects the Republican's effort to cast himself as the pragmatic leader of a welcoming GOP while running for re-election and considering a White House bid.
He's signaling he won't be intimidated by a vocal conservative minority that usually wields great influence in Republican presidential politics. Christie is betting his political future that the GOP and the nation would embrace an unapologetic compromiser capable of attracting a broad coalition of voters, as he is expected to do in the gubernatorial election in two weeks.
There are risks. Republicans opposing gay marriage traditionally dominate GOP politics in early-voting states on the presidential calendar.