Give credit to New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. When every other politician in and out of Washington were carefully playing an expectation game preceding last week’s first Presidential debate, Christie laid it all on the line when he predicted the race would be “turned upside down” by a strong Mitt Romney debate performance.
This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.
Give credit to New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. When every other politician in and out of Washington were carefully playing an expectation game preceding last week’s first Presidential debate, Christie laid it all on the line when he predicted the race would be “turned upside down” by a strong Mitt Romney debate performance. Democrats chuckled at Christie’s bold prediction, while Republicans tried to walk back his enthusiasm. Vice Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) , who will debate this Thursday against Joe Biden, talked up Obama’s experience as a debater, not Romney’s. Even Senior Mitt Romney Campaign Advisor Kevin Madden tried to distance his candidate from the remarks, telling CNN, “I don’t think any one event is going to dramatically alter the race.”
We all know what happened next. Looking lethargic and uninterested (perhaps due to Denver’s high altitude, like Al Gore laughably suggested), President Obama just laid down as the former Massachusetts Governor went after him on point after point, firing up his supports and altering the course of the campaign, just as Christie predicted he would. In the post-debate spin room, all those mealy-mouth politicians and advisors who were trying to temper expectations sounded exactly like Christie. Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom called Christie “quite the prognosticator,” and South Dakota Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) echoed Christie’s prediction by saying, “This is a whole new ball game.”
So of course, Christie was satisfied with simply being right about the candidate he’s supporting for president, and didn’t try to gloat, right?
Yeah, right! He barely gave himself enough time to pin a self-awarded Medal of Honor badge on his chest before phoning in to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and proudly proclaiming the morning after the debate, “I just don’t think that anybody else was paying attention.”
As Charlie Stile reported at the Bergen Record, Christie’s his chief confidante, William Palatucci, fired off an email to CNN saying, “Only Chris Christie had the guts to say what he really thought — that Mitt would shine.”
I give Christie complete credit for coming out and showing confidence in his candidate, especially since no one else in the political establishment seemed to have any. I don’t know if was the most politically astute move, but sometimes that river card can reap unthought-of rewards during a hand of Texas Hold ’em, and in this case, Christie’s hand came up all aces.
It won’t do much to get his income tax cut passed in Trenton, but hey, he was able to double-down on his perception of a straight-talker, and remains the darling of the cable news industry. Just like his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, Christie was able to take a moment that should be all about Mitt Romney and keep the spotlight fixed on him for a while. All this reminds me of my favorite headline, from the New York Times, about Chris Christie ability to capture the spotlight: “It’s Not All About Him, He Said Often.”
Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe.