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Christie demoted to preliminary GOP debate

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens to Sen. Rand Paul make a point during last month's GOP presidential debate in Colorado. For Tuesday's debate, Christie has been demoted to the preliminary event, sharing a stage with former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. (AP photo/Mark J. Terrill)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens to Sen. Rand Paul make a point during last month's GOP presidential debate in Colorado. For Tuesday's debate, Christie has been demoted to the preliminary event, sharing a stage with former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. (AP photo/Mark J. Terrill)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has failed to show well enough in national polls to be included in Tuesday’s debate between the top-tier Republican presidential candidates.

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin said exclusion from the main debate stage does not doom Christie’s campaign.

“I don’t think it’s quite the end, but it’s certainly a blow,” Dworkin said. “In effect, Christie got voted off the island and when that happens, it’s really hard to get back on and it’s very hard to win the whole thing.”

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said she believes it’s almost a death knell for Christie’s presidential bid.

“This is not someone who’s viewed as being an individual who could be a contender if he’s moved away from that core essence of the debate. I really that this is almost career ending for the governor in terms of his presidential bid.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray, however, said Christie could still get a lot of attention in the second-tier debate.

“Perhaps he’ll have a chance to shine when it’s just four candidates. Certainly, he’ll have the biggest personality on that stage, which will be a first in these debates, where he’s been the one who’s been able to stand out and not be in the shadow of Donald Trump,” Murray said.

Christie will appear with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Because of their low poll numbers, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki did not make the cut for the undercard event.

Exclusion from the main debate hurts Christie’s ability to raise campaign money, but it probably won’t force Christie to drop out of the race in the days ahead, said Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale.

“From all reports, he’s running a pretty lean campaign. I think that he’s got some money in the bank that he’ll be able to put ads up,” Hale said. “But more than anything he’s spending the vast majority of his time up in New Hampshire doing the retail politics that matter in that state.”

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