Can Christie use Democratic debate to his advantage?
The first Democratic presidential debate will take place Tuesday night. On the Republican side, Gov. Chris Christie could try to use the debate to bolster his still struggling presidential campaign. Political experts said it would be tough, but not impossible for Christie to make a little political hay.
“The only thing I could think of that Gov. Christie would do here is to try to seize upon one liners that Republican voters would find objectionable,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.
The governor could decide what was said that might be objectionable to GOP voters and use it to illustrate how different he is from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Harrison suggested. Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute said it was possible for Christie to set himself apart.
“The idea of the Democratic debate is it gives every Republican candidate the opportunity to show that they are the happy warrior, the Republican who is going to go out after these Democrats when they say something that the republicans consider to be stupid or just out of the mainstream,” said Murray.
Harrison said in such a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, it would be difficult for Christie to hit a home run with his debate reaction.
“The problem of course, is getting anyone in the national media to pay attention to him, but if he is outrageous enough in his contentions and his claims perhaps he will be able to grab a little bit of the limelight,” she explained.
There is also the Donald Trump factor. Murray predicted Trump’s debate response would get the most attention for the longest amount of time, but for Christie that wouldn’t matter all that much because debate reaction wouldn’t make a big difference to the voters he’s trying to attract.
“It’s really no harm, no foul,” Murray said. “The Republicans are not looking to see who has the best response to the democrats based on this one debate.”
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.