Christie seen as a winner in Saturday GOP debate: Will it help?
Gov. Chris Christie's attack on Sen. Marco Rubio during Saturday night's Republican presidential candidate debate had many declaring him the winner — but will it help him at the voting booth on Tuesday?
The governor, currently in the middle-to-bottom of the polls heading into Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, took aim at Rubio throughout most of the debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester in hopes of gaining some last minute traction.
Christie has built his closing argument around his criticism of Rubio, and he kept up that approach on the debate stage. He accused the senator of being a candidate governed by talking points — then pounced when the senator played into his hands by repeating multiple times what appeared to be a planned response to criticisms about his qualifications.
"You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable," Christie said. "You just simply haven't."
Rubio tried to get in a shot at Christie initial reluctance to return to New Jersey during the January blizzard.
"Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn't even want to go back. They had to shake you into going back. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign. Those are the facts, here's the bottom line, this notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing ..."
Christie pounced on the criticism: "There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech," he said.
Dean Spiliotes, a political professor at Southern New Hampshire University, said Christie had a "strong performance" on Saturday night.
"We knew somebody was going to come after Rubio," Spiliotes said. "In the last week, (Christie's) been probably the most vocal in that regard even though they've all been going at (Rubio) since Iowa."
With two days to go before the primary, the performance could still make difference in Tuesday's primary vote.
"The races here in my many years covering New Hampshire primaries are always fluid and there's always some kind of surprise the polls did not pick up," Spiliotes said. "I'm sure it's possible. I am sure that he'll be going non-stop. There's no silver bullet for him at this point beyond hoping that he gets some kind of bounce from the debate."
Spilliotes said Christie will first have to get past "the governors" of Jeb Bush and John Kasich.
"Christie had a very good night, but so did John Kasich," said Spilliotes of the Ohio governor who had topped Christie in the recent polls. "It just feels like (Kasich) has had a slight edge up here among the 'governors,' said Spilliotes, who said Kasich has done around 100 town hall campaign events and has become a better candidate.
"There are a lot of people going out to see the candidates. All the rallies have been mobbed for all the candidates," for both top and bottom tier candidates, Spilliotes said.
Another factor, Spilliotes said, is that a CNN/WMUR poll shows 45% of voters say they are still undecided.
"I always believe some people don't saying who they're going to vote for but I do think a lot of people really are undecided," he said.
Christie kept up the attack during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" and compared Rubio's experience to that of President Obama.
"We've had a president for seven years who was a first-term United States senator who had never managed anything in his entire life and our government is unraveling," Christie said.
After ticking off several issue, he said, "We don't need another on the job training in the White House. We need someone who’s actually done this stuff and I've done it. So what I felt last night when I was doing that was I'm glad the American people are getting to see this before they make a mistakes."
He also took a swipe at Kasich on the show and brought up that he was on the board of Lehman Brothers, which went out of business in 2008. But he called Kasich a good governor — but said "I'm just better."