Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, had some useful things to say yesterday on NBC's “Meet the Press” and on ABC's ”This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” Christie's critics say he is a rabble-rouser and a little intemperate, but maybe he is just impatient with people who can't appreciate candor and who under-appreciate the truth. There is some hand-wringing that Christie might raise expectations for the first debate, but it is taking place Wednesday, so nuances don't matter much at this point. And nuance isn't Christie's thing anyway.
As a gubernatorial candidate in 2009, Chris Christie was among the first to challenge the idea that President Obama was all-powerful. Any reading of the polls then would have lead just about anyone to believe that Obama was right and everybody else was wrong. Christie didn't blink and he doesn't want Mitt Romney to do so now.
On “Meet the Press,” Christie said Obama "desperately wants to run out the clock with platitudes." Christie is right — and the president and his team have done a pretty good job of doing just that.
On “This Week,” Christie matter-of-factly called Obama a liar. He used harsh words that Romney himself can't appropriately use, but Christie did remind Romney that the truth about the economy is on his side. And as readers of The Insiders know, in politics, having the truth on your side is only an advantage. It is not determinative.
Romney must use the truth effectively. Obama has a record that isn't hard to hit him with, including no job creation; low growth; wild spending; staggering debt and open hostility to private business. Romney's challenge is to make that stick and to make the impact of this failed record relevant to voters.
The debates present an opportunity for Romney to force Obama to face a day of reckoning. Romney must do a good job of keeping Obama's record as the main issue. In a race that has been full of distractions and noise, the debates are a chance to offer clarity to voters.