Political Strategists Discuss Christie’s Presidential Campaign

Political Science Professor at Montclair State University Brigid Harrison, Democratic Strategist Vin Gopal and Republican Strategist Jeanette Hoffman discussed Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement that he is running for president with NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams.

The group discussed Christie’s announcement of his presidential run, his chances at winning the Republican nomination, his trip to New Hampshire and what his presidential run means for the state of New Jersey.

Hoffman said that Christie did what he needed to do during his announcement in Livingston, but that he still needs to distinguish himself from the rest of the candidates.

“Well I think first, in his announcement, he did what he needed to do and played to his strengths,” said Hoffman. “It was a vintage Chris Christie speech. He was a reformer, telling it like it is, talking about the hard truth in politics. But he is the underdog, he is certainly not the frontrunner here. There’s a candidate field to about 16 candidates. Fourteen announced. He’s the 14th and what Gov. Christie needs to do is really distinguish himself from that huge pack of candidates with Republican governors and senators.”

As the Christie campaign gets started, Gopal says that Democrats will now be watching how he connects with Independent voters.

“His ability probably to connect with Independent voters. How he does in some of these early states, especially in those states where they can cross over and vote in the Republican primary,” Gopal said. “How he does, not just only with the conservative Republican but with the moderate Republican that make up some of these elections like New Hampshire. I think those are going to be some interesting tell signs on how he does in the general election if he is successful in the primary.”

Harrison said that Christie has some key strengths that separate him from the other Republican candidates, but that he will have some difficulty with his opponents.

“He has that ability, perhaps unlike many other candidates out there, to really hit home runs with voters,” Harrison said. “The difficulty is that his opponents really have a lot…that they can really use against him. They can use the Bridgegate scandal, they can use the state’s economic prospects. And I think that they will do that in very nasty ways. What we’ve seen from this governor is that when he is painted into a corner, he lashes out. And so one challenge for him moving forward is to be able to control that temper because it is going to get ugly, it is going to get nasty and everything will be fair game.”