Chris Christie Takes Campaign Break To Visit Drug And Alcohol Treatment Program In Paterson

Governor Christie took a break from his presidential campaign to visit a Paterson drug and alcohol treatment program Tuesday afternoon to highlight the work of a task force he appointed one year ago to combat addiction in the state.

Tuesday’s event followed several media appearances by Christie, and Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement Monday that he was suspending his presidential campaign. Christie isn’t showing any signs that he plans to follow Walker or former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in dropping out.

While Christie has pushed to put a focus on addiction treatment and other issues – including overhauling Social Security; reforming the tax code; and bolstering the country’s military – his campaign has been struggling to gain traction.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said Christie has more hurdles to overcome than the other Republican candidates because Democrats worked so hard to smear his reputation in the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

“The traditional rules of rising to the top don’t apply to Christie because he’s still battling the perception the Democrats labeled on him beautifully of being damaged goods,” O’Connell said. “He has to turn in two or three of these good debate performances because he has to dig himself out of a bigger hole than a lot of these other candidates.”

And in order to remain relevant ahead of the next debate in Colorado on Oct. 28, O’Connell said Christie needs to raise money. Though he noted Christie’s campaign has been smart by keeping its staff slim – unlike Walker who blew through the funds he raised – and by relying largely on a super PAC to run ads supporting his bid.

He said Christie has an opportunity with Walker dropping out of the race and donors looking for someone to back other than frontrunner Donald Trump.

“The best thing he has going for him is Jeb Bush isn’t gaining traction and John Kasich didn’t light the world on fire in the last debate,” O’Connell said. “Where the money people are looking is who can take on Trump.”

O’Connell said the question is whether Christie can convince the big donors to back him becayse many donors are “keeping all their options open.”

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