Can Chris Christie Talk His Way Back To The Top Of The GOP Pack?

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor will announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium of his alma mater, Livingston High School. But he’ll do so as a long-shot candidate for the GOP’s nod, not the front-runner he looked like 18 months ago. 

A combination of factors — including the scandal surrounding an aide’s decision to shut down a New Jersey town’s access to a major bridge as political payback, his state’s suffering a credit downgrade and Christie’s poor standing among voters in New Jersey — have combined to knock the governor’s down into also-ran status in the ever-widening GOP field. 

How does Christie get his mojo back? Can he? It’s possible, say close observers of political campaigns, but it won’t be easy. It starts, for Christie, with fighting his way onto the stage for the Republican primary debates that start next month. 

“He can’t get shut out of the debates,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “His ability to speak, to talk to a crowd, is his most effective tool. He has to remind people of why they made him a front-runner in the first place, and if he doesn’t get on a debate stage, he’s dead in the water.”

Unfortunately for Christie, a spot on the stage at the first debate in August is far from assured. Fox News will host the debate and, with the tacit consent of the Republican National Committee, has said that it will limit the field to 10 candidates. The selection will be based in large part on how candidates are performing in public opinion polls.

O’Connell agreed that there is a path for Christie, if a narrow one. “He knows his strengths. He is the best speaker on the stump of everyone in the field. What he has to do is find a way to connect with people any way possible.”

Read more from Rob Garver at The Fiscal Times

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Analysis & Political Strategy