August 06, 2015
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie squeaked into Thursday night's Republican presidential primary debate just as voters in his home state gave him a resounding, record low approval rating that continued his downward spiral since August 2014.
In the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll, Christie's favorability rating plummetted to a scant 30 percent of New Jersey's registered voters. That dissatisfaction crossed party lines and extended into the governor's performance on issues ranging from taxes and education to crime and the economy.
Could a trip to Cleveland and a national stage give the governor a lift? Pitted against 9 other GOP hopefuls in Thursday night's debate, did Christie make an advance from the periphery of a field hoping to contain polarizing frontrunner Donald Trump? Did he become more a "darling of conservatives" and overcome moderator Chris Baeir's opening salvo?
Early in the debate, Christie was challenged on his economic record in New Jersey, from the state's high foreclosure rate to its pension crisis. Christie jumped to defend himself by citing the state's spending spree prior to his taking office in 2010.
Chris Christie defends New Jersey's current economic woes: "If you think it's bad now you should have seen it when I got there." #GOPDebate— Secular Coalition (@seculardotorg) August 7, 2015
Later, in a debate highlight, Christie engaged in a heated shouting match with Rand Paul over surveillance and data collection, sniping at the Kentucky senator for "fundamentally misunderstanding the Bill of Rights."
I'm starting to suspect Chris Christie and Rand Paul don't like each other— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) August 7, 2015
Paul shot back at Christie over his embrace of Barack Obama.
Rand Paul just called Chris Christie a Obama hugger onstage. Christie comes back by saying he hugged 9/11 families. this is insane.— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) August 7, 2015
Rand Paul and Chris Christie just outdid Drake and Meek Mill in like 45 seconds.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) August 7, 2015
On the question of entitlement reform, Christie declared Social Security "broken" and "stolen from." "We have been lied to," Christie said of the system, calling for an increase in the retirement age to prevent bankruptcy and tax increases. Twitter's jury was a little more split on this one.
Means testing and raising the retirement age on social security. The third rail has been touched by Chris Christie.— Sigh Hersh (@Ugarles) August 7, 2015
Chris Christie says his Social Security plan hurts the rich, but it really hurts the poor: http://t.co/E2M9WGvofb— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) August 7, 2015
Chris Christie has his best moment of night in explaining entitlement reform stance. Sounded knowledgeable and confident.— Jeremy Wallace (@JeremySWallace) August 7, 2015
On defense spending, Christie argued that higher troop and fleet limits should be set for the various branches of the U.S. military in order to send a message of strength to the world. Those comments sparked discussion on the reinstatement of a draft.
Chris Christie says we need to strengthen our military, because spending more on it than the next 16 countries combined is weak.— Nima Shirazi (@WideAsleepNima) August 7, 2015
How does @ChrisChristie hit those numbers without a military draft?— Shane Rhyne (@shanerhyne) August 7, 2015
Chris Christie: the first thing we need to do to strengthen America is to strengthen our military. Reagan would have agreed! #GOPDebate— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) August 7, 2015
We need to spend more on the military Chris Christie? Ummmm... pic.twitter.com/pyAoEDyNJE— Rob Piercy (@robpiercy) August 7, 2015
In his closing remarks, Christie summarized his mission as follows: "The United States needs to stop worrying about being loved and start worry about being respected, and that's how I'll lead the country."
But of all things, apart from an endless stream of references to his appearance...
...Bridgegate could still be Chris Christie's Achilles heel.
If you don't vote for Chris Christie, he'll make you late for work! The dude's a gem. That's what I would do as a politician. #GOPDebate— Matt Winthrop (@matt_winthrop) August 7, 2015
Even Philadelphia's probable next mayor, Jim Kenney, got in on the action for the tweet of the night.