By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Chris Christie has poured energy into New Hampshire, so when yesterday’s Monmouth Poll of New Hampshire voters came out and Christie was tied for 9th at 2 percent, it had to be deflating.
Monmouth Poll director Patrick Murray says tomorrow night’s debate hinges on how the other candidates handle Donald Trump.
“Do you go after Donald Trump or try to ignore him or ride his wave and there are dangers in all those things,” Murray said.
He says Jeb Bush should go after Trump, Ted Cruz will try to ride Trump’s wave.
“Then there are the other candidates like Chris Christie who is now down at the bottom of the pack and the question remains: does he go after Donald Trump? Does he try to make a stink in this debate as he has said he said he possibly will. I think that can backfire on these type of candidates because it’ll make them look like they’re trying too hard,” Murray said.
“What is your debate strategy this time around?” asked Fox host Megyn Kelly. “Be myself. I think if you try too hard people see that,” Christie said.
Brigid Harrison of Montclair State University puts it slightly differently. She says Christie has to walk a fine line.
“If he is bombastic and kind of irreverent, he’s accused of being Trump-like character, which of course we all know Gov. Christie originated that model. But the thing is will people take that kind of candidate seriously? On the other hand, if he is serious and statesmanlike, is he going to get the attention that he really needs to get his figures out of two percent,” Harrison said.
Trump nearly filled a 20,000 seat arena in Dallas last night.
“Many of these gang members are illegal immigrants. They’re rough dudes. They will be out of here so frickin’ fast,” Trump said.
Murray says that kind of rhetoric is hard to compete with. Harrison says especially when there are so many candidates on stage.
“Maintaining your energy when you’re not having the spotlight shine on you may be a tricky proposition, and the trick is for him to keep that level up even if they’re not asking him questions,” Harrison said.
Christie complained about waiting through 20 questions in the last debate.
“Stay tuned on September 16, we may be changing tactics. If I get to like 15 questions in a row, count them at home, if we get to fifteen in a row, uh-oh, he’s gonna go nuclear now!” Christie said.
Christie says it’s a long campaign and he sounds unfazed.
“I think it is a long campaign. I can’t imagine that he’s unfazed,” Harrison said.
The Christie camp believes there is still a path to the nomination for their guy. It all depends on Donald Trump imploding. Whether that begins to happen in tomorrow night’s debate is something we’ll all be watching for.