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August 06, 2015

How did Chris Christie weather the storm of the #GOPDebate?

Twitter responds as New Jersey governor answers challenges on economy, social security and military

Politics Republicans
080615_ChristieGOPdebate Andrew Harnik/AP

Gov. Chris Christie answers a question during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland.

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.

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."

Paul shot back at Christie over his embrace of Barack Obama.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Even Philadelphia's probable next mayor, Jim Kenney,  got in on the action for the tweet of the night.