GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie stood out in the sedate GOP underdog debate on Tuesday for his focus on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, rather than three rivals who have no chance of winning the nomination.
The New Jersey governor, bounced from the prime-time show at the fourth GOP debate in Milwaukee because of sagging numbers in some polls, came in with a clear strategy to mostly ignore former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Sen. Rick Santorum.
Indeed, the underdogs did not bring up the GOP front-runners, billionaire Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and there others who are rising, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
But Christie had the smartest strategy by not engaging with the three rivals who combined barely break into the low two digits.
At multiple junctures, Christie ripped into Clinton: She is “coming for your wallet”; along with President Barack Obama, she is for a “feckless foreign policy”; as far as health insurance is concerned, she will “move us towards a single-payer system” and disrespects veterans.
On top of all that, Christie slammed her because, when asked about enemies — well, she named the Republicans.
The debate, hosted by the Fox Business Network, the Wall Street Journal and the Republican National Committee, was the calmest of the four so far, a byproduct of the chaos of the third one in Boulder. The main contenders at Boulder complained about the questions from the CNBC journalists
Jindal went on the attack against Christie and Huckabee, also dropped for the first time from prime time, asserting they were not conservative enough.
Jindal also looked for a jolt from media bashing when he was the first of the group to be asked to name a Democratic he would work with. He refused, stating it was a “silly question.” That opened the door for the others to use the time to talk about something else.
However, the question by the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib was in fact on point in regards to getting policy passed in Congress. In the Senate, it takes 60 votes to get most measures passed, meaning Republicans and Democrats have to work together no matter which party controls the chamber.
Top social moment of the debate on Facebook
Santorum’s and Christie’s responses when asked to name a Democrat they admire.
Top candidates discussed during the debate on Facebook
1. Chris Christie
2. Bobby Jindal
3. Mike Huckabee
3. Rick Santorum (tied)