Will Town Hall Performances Be Christie’s Presidential Comeback?
Once the darling of the Republican Party nationwide, Gov. Chris Christie finds himself trailing badly in early primary state polls in the 2016 presidential election.
Despite the poll results, many political experts don't think it will deter Christie from making a run at the White House because he has invested too much time and energy not to run.
"He (Christie) is not someone who would suddenly withdraw from a life-long ambition simply because of a bad poll, so yes, he's absolutely committed to running," said Ben Dworkin, a political science professor at Rider University.
With so much at stake, is it too late for the governor to win over voters?
Dworkin said no and added that the governor's bread and butter is the town hall and he could win voters over when he hosts those events in primary states.
"When he gets up close and personal with folks in Iowa and in New Hampshire he's going to be able to connect with folks," Dworkin said. "He is going to have a tremendous impact. I think people are drawn to him."
Polls that show Christie last in primary states are probably not being taken seriously by the governor because there is plenty of time to make up ground and he has the skill set to do that, according to Dworkin.
And funding shouldn't be a problem, at least not yet.
The governor has enough money to stay in the primary at least through New Hampshire, according to Seton Hall University political science professor Matthew Hale. He also thinks Christie will run and he agreed that town hall-style events are the way to win the hearts and minds of voters, particularly in New England.
"Remember that New Hampshire and New England invented the town hall and that's really Christie's specialty. He's a master at it. He's as good as Bill Clinton was at the town hall and so magic can strike at those things and they're also important in Iowa," Hale said.
Both pundits agreed that Christie's plummeting poll numbers are directly related to the Bridegate scandal, and should the governor be indicted he would be done politically. The governor has maintained that he had nothing to do with the unannounced lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September of 2013. The closures snarled traffic for days and Democrats said it was an act of political retribution because Fort Lee's Democratic mayor would not endorse Christie's re-election campaign.
According to Dworkin and Hale, there's no shame in losing a presidential primary. In fact, such a loss for Christie would have no impact on his ability to come back and govern New Jersey for the remainder of his term because that was always going to be difficult.
"It's going to be tough for Gov. Christie to govern no matter what happens in the presidential primaries in part because a lot of the leadership in the Assembly and Senate want to be the next governor," Hale said.