Christie Must Participate in Prime-Time Debate, Says Political Experts
Fox News is expected to announce Tuesday night the top 10 candidates in national polls who will participate in the first prime-time Republican presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 6. The remaining six GOP candidates will be invited to take part in a debate earlier that same day.
Political experts said it's critical for Gov. Chris Christie to be in the main event, but that's in jeopardy because a Quinnipiac University Poll released last week had him in 10th place with just 3 percent support.
"It's really getting on that main stage with the top 10 candidates that is going to give yourself some credibility," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "The remaining six have been relegated to the 'kiddie table' of debates."
One candidate expected to participate in the main is Donald Trump. Despite ongoing controversy, he continues to lead in the polls. Murray said there are pluses and minuses to Trump participating because it is difficult to decide how to react to him.
Regardless as to who makes the cut, Christie needs to be on that stage, according to Murray.
"Donors and voters are going to be looking at those top 10 candidates as the candidates who are the serious contenders right now in this race," Murray explained.
The debate is expected to draw a huge audience by debate standards.
And while all candidates want to be included in the big debate, there are some advantages to taking part in the smaller debate, according to Fairleigh Dickinson University Political Science Professor Krista Jenkins.
"In the early debate, someone could come out with a few good zingers that make headlines and that can certainly help their chances. There's probably more time to really talk about things when you have fewer people on the stage," she said.
Now that there are an unprecedented 16 Republicans in the field, it is very difficult to compare what we're seeing today with anything historic, according to Jenkins.
She agreed with Murray that Christie needs to be in the prime-time debate.
"I think it would certainly hurt his chances if he's unable to make it up onto the main stage. The earlier debate is one that is probably going to communicate to people that these are not the likely nominees," Jenkins predicted.