By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
The Nutley Diner was a mob scene this morning on this final day of the governor’s race. Parked outside, the Strong Leadership Express — Chris Christie’s campaign bus.
“Now it’s just about getting people out to vote. I feel a lot of excitement. You’ve been at a lot of these events. I think we have a lot of people very excited about tomorrow. So I just want folks to come out to vote tomorrow,” Christie said.
Traveling with the governor today, New Mexico’s Republican Gov. Susanna Martinez, who called him a friend and fantastic leader.
“I support him completely because he develops relationships with people on both sides of the aisle,” Martinez said.
Also on the bus this morning, Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Christie’s brother Todd, along with political advisor Mike DuHaime and interim U.S. Sen. Jeff Chiesa.
With polls showing Christie winning by anywhere from 18 to 36 points, it’s all about the margin now.
“Whatever the margin is, it is. And you and others will all have opinions about whether it’s enough, not enough. That’s fine. As long as everybody’s calling me governor again come January 2014, then it’s enough,” Christie said.
When Barbara Buono, a Nutley native, campaigned in the same diner last Friday, the place looked normal. Today it was frenzied. The governor even took a woman’s cell phone and spoke to her mother.
“He’s a wonderful governor. He says it like it is, gets the job done, he’s a good family man. He’s a very wonderful role model,” Pat Caggiano said.
“Possibly the next president of the United States. He’s a good man. I think we should all vote for him,” said Gerard Claps.
Christie had some tough words about Buono today.
“This is the problem with Sen. Buono’s campaign fueled by anger, with no idea about where she wants to take the state, except to be relentlessly, relentlessly critical. Campaigns are about tomorrow, not about yesterday,” Christie said.
When asked if he is looking for a 20-point win tomorrow, Christie said, “I’m looking for a win and I like to win down-ticket, as well.”
Two Essex County power players — one Democrat, one Republican — were downplaying the margin.
“I’m hoping for a large turnout and I’m hoping for a big win for our governor,” said Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, a Democrat.
When asked if a five-point margin would be like a loss for Christie, Republican Sen. Kevin O’Toole said, “Absolutely not. A one-point win is a win. When you think about the bluest of blue states, you have a governor after four four years who’s gonna win and convincingly — that’s a win.”
The governor’s team is trying to lower expectations for tomorrow night. But the kind of energy he’s generating on this last day of the campaign has their hopes soaring toward landslide.