TAPPER: Now, the man who many pundits are calling the star of last night’s extremely fiery Republican debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who’s here with us…
CHRISTIE: I think the whole race changed last night because, you know, there was a march among some of the chattering class to anoint Senator Rubio. I think after last night that’s over. I think there could be four or five tickets now out of New Hampshire, because the race is so unsettled. You can’t trust Senator Rubio… I’m the person who is best prepared to beat Hillary Clinton. If Republicans want someone who can get on that stage and hold Hillary Clinton to task for the things that she has done and the things she is proposing, and they are trying to choose between me and Marco Rubio, I think last night showed what they should do. You need someone experienced, someone tested and ready. Just remember this, Jake. This is not about me, this is about the American people, they want an effective presidency. And they need someone who has been tested, and I’ve been tested and Senator Rubio has not.
I would spin it a bit differently. If you woke up last evening, and your nurse told you there was a presidential campaign underway and you tuned into the debate, you could want Chris Christie. And while I think he is a) someone who could beat Hillary Clinton and b) a candidate I could cheerfully vote for, in fact, as a candidate he is inferior in virtually every respect to Marco Rubio. Rubio had a good debate in Iowa, he didn’t have a good debate last night. That happens.
Unless that debate performance translates into Chris Christie votes on Tuesday, he really has no more future in this campaign than he had last week. And I have my doubts that very many Rubio voters are going to change their preference over this.
What we are going to see after yesterday, though, is a media honeymoon for Christie. He is a lot more popular as a guest than Rubio, because he is more spontaneous and apt to say something exotic. He also provides the media with a tool to chip away at Rubio and it will accelerate the velocity of the Rubio vs. Bush/Christie narrative that began to surface last week. In short, it puffs up a candidate who is going nowhere (Christie) at the expense of a candidate who would clean Clinton’s clock in a general election (that would be Rubio).