Chris Christie Is Out…
If Chris Christie thought he was helping his campaign as he attacked Marco Rubio during last Saturday night’s debate, he was mistaken. Christie invested a lot of time and money in New Hampshire, but after tonight’s primary results, it was all for naught. Finishing in sixth place, with 8% of the vote, the Christie campaign announced that he has suspended his presidential run. In their words, “He is returning to New Jersey to take a deep breath”.
Donald Trump was the big winner tonight for the GOP, taking 35% of the vote, with John Kasich at 16%, and Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio all at 11%. A sixth place finish disqualified Christie from participating in the next GOP debate scheduled for February 13, in Greenville, South Carolina. Only the candidates who placed in the top three in Iowa, and those finishing in the top five in New Hampshire will be included. That means that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich will be taking the stage.
Donald Trump has maintained a lead in New Hampshire, so everyone expected him to win, though not by the landslide number he received. John Kasich has spent the majority of his time in New Hampshire, as well as his campaign funds, so he was also expected to do well. Marco Rubio, who had an exceptional debate before the Iowa Caucus last week, and who outperformed his poll numbers there, went into New Hampshire with his numbers rising. His trajectory had many of the pundits expecting him to take second place. After the debate on Saturday night, and Christie’s attacks, the polls began to change. Although Senator Rubio regained his footing in the debate with Christie, and did very well in the latter part of the debate, the media hammered him over the last three days. Those who did not see the debate had only to open their newspapers or flip on their television to see how “badly” Rubio performed. The media has amazing power to shape voter opinion.
Obviously, I am not upset to see Christie out of the race, and this is not just because of his attacks on Rubio. I have never recovered from his speech at the Republican Convention in 2012, which had little to do with helping Mitt Romney, and a lot to do with helping Chris Christie. Worse still, I think his hug fest with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy, combined with the gushing words of praise for him, hurt Romney in the election. He’s just not someone I admire.
It was a disappointing night for the Rubio campaign, but he can resurrect his momentum with a powerful performance in both the South Carolina debate and primary. Rubio needs to pull ahead of Bush in that primary, but the word is already out that the Bush campaign is planning a “scorched earth” attack on Rubio going into the race. Jeb definitely has the money behind him, so it will be another hard fought contest to watch. Trump and Cruz poll well in South Carolina, but I do not expect that Kasich will have a strong showing.
The pundits are really spinning New Hampshire as shaking up the whole field, but I still see this as essentially a three-man race. Kasich will not be in much longer, because he does not have the infrastructure in the other states, or the funding to launch a strong ground campaign. If Jeb Bush does not do well in South Carolina, he may be out as well. He has the financial backing to go the distance, but I am hoping that he will consider the welfare of the GOP and suspend his campaign. At this point, his continued presence in the race benefits Trump.
That leaves Trump, Cruz and Rubio. All three have the funds and the organization to stay in the race and duke it out for the nomination. Marco Rubio is the ONLY candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton. All the polls have been consistent on that score. Most of the pundits agree. Bill O’Reilly even announced it on his show last night. The goal for the Republicans is to retake the White House in November. The voters need to get serious, look ahead, and coalesce behind the candidate who can win.