With polls consistently showing him leading Democrat Barbara Buono by anywhere from 19 to 35 points, the only thing Gov. Chris Christie had to do to “win” his debate against Buono last night was not to “lose it” – his temper, that is.
To the delight of his Republican strategists and the chagrin of Democratic leaders, it was a kinder, gentler Christie that showed up at William Paterson University last night and on CBS-TV screens across the state.
Sure, Christie got in a few memorable jabs on taxes, asking Buono if she regretted any of the 154 taxes and fees she had voted to raise during her legislative career and asserting that he had to clean up the budget mess that Buono and former Gov. Jon Corzine left behind. That contention prompted the feisty Buono’s best retort when she told Christie to stop blaming Corzine for everything: “Governor, you have to man up. You have been in office for four years.”
But last night wasn’t about what Buono did to effectively articulate her policy differences with Christie. It was about what Christie didn’t do. Overall, Christie was “calm, cool, collected and in control,” just what his longtime political guru, William Palatucci wanted. “I just liked his demeanor,” Palatucci said approvingly afterwards.
“We didn’t see the real Chris Christie today,” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-Mercer), Buono’s campaign cochair, said with a touch of frustration. “We all know he speaks in a bullying language, but he tried to soften his image.”
There were few, if any, YouTube moments, and that added up to “a status quo debate” for a candidate content to sit on his giant lead, said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling InstituteRead more at NJSpotlight.com
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