I was alive for Nixon, I was a very ardent Republican at the time.
But what I take away from Nixon is he was very opportunistic, his early years would be more like a radical Tea Party man like Cruz to then transforms into a peacemaker with China. He obsessed with being the first President to lose a war and engaged in 'crazy Ivan' diplomacy. His paranoia ran deep and eventually led to his disgraceful early exit from the White House when his own party told him he would be successfully impeached if he didn't leave.
I see Christie as head and shoulders above Nixon. While the Jersey Governor can be a bit lippy he doesn't invoke the 'crazy Ivan' image when dealing with opponents. he doesn't seem to have that huge persecution complex Nixon did, and a 300 pound politician sure has plenty of reason to think everyone is out to get his fat ass.
Christie has already shown a far more willingness to do what's correct rather than what helps the right- the 'embrace' of President Obama after the hurricane comes to mind. I'd say he would be perhaps the single best candidate for the GOP and for our nation at this time. I don't see the current GOP with TP cankersore ever working with a democrat President, the only way forward would be a RINO, and that is very telling on the so-called conservative camp's no way Jose attitude.
But for Governor Christie to get the GOP nomination there will need to be a Night of the Long Knives within the Republican Party. The TP's have served their purpose and need to be taken out. While the TPs were very helpful last presidential election by having it's candidates implode one after the other, they were successful at making the party platform unappealing to many Independents, and I don't see Cruz or Rubio being as flawed as Santorum or Gingrich.
I don't see the TPs giving up control of many Red State caucuses or the platform crafting positions. Give or take a saner governor there are roughly 25 very hard right GOP governors in the central part of the state. There are 30 some with rather radical right state legislatures and there are 20 to 30 gerrymandered TP Congressional districts who's only fear is someone even MORE radical right than they coming from within their own party.
All of that is to say unless the GOP old school elite step in and change the primary/platform process- not a very democratic move- I see a very rough row to hoe for any GOP moderate who tries to stay a moderate.
But I do think Christie is better than Nixon...