Why won’t Christie attack Trump?
Whether it’s calling a Democratic legislator “numb nuts” or urging reporters to “take a bat out” on the State senate Democratic leader, Gov. Chris Christie is famous for verbally and very publicly bashing his opponents.
But there's one that seems to have escaped his wrath
While he has said he disagrees with GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on several issues, Christie is not attacking him with any real fervor. Two political experts said there was every reason for Christie to avoid getting into a war of words with Trump.
“They are appealing to similar voters,” said Ben Dworkin, a political science professor at Rider University. “He (Christie) has to bide his time in order to be able to appeal to the same voters. Christie wants to be the second choice for all those people, so if Trump pulls out at some point Christie can snap up those folks.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley agreed with Dworkin’s assessment. He said Trump’s base is definitely a large group people who could move to Christie’s camp if they are forced to look for another candidate.
“The people who support Donald Trump one day may have to pick another candidate. Christie wants that other candidate to be him so he doesn’t want to go after Trump because he doesn’t want to go after Trump’s voters,” explained Woolley.
There’s a real cost to attacking Trump, according to both Dworkin and Woolley. That strategy certainly hasn’t worked out very well for the Republican candidates who have used it. Scott Walker attacked Trump and he’s out of the race. Rand Paul did it and has been falling in the polls. Same with Jeb Bush.
“This has been a godsend for the Christie campaign because these other people have ended up being Donald Trump roadkill, so now Christie is staying below the radar. He isn’t attacking,” Dworkin said.
Christie can’t afford to make his image any more caustic, and getting into a verbal fight with Trump would make Christie look even more acerbic than he has been looking, Woolley said.
Also, Christie would be likely to get as good as he gives and maybe more if he goes on the offensive against Trump.
“Once you start lobbing missiles and mud pies at Donald Trump you’re guaranteed that he’s going to lob right back at you,” Woolley pointed out.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.