New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) raised expectations Sunday ahead of Mitt Romney's first debate with President Obama, saying that come Thursday morning, observers will look at the race as an entirely new contest.

"I have absolute confidence that when we get to Thursday morning, George, all of you are going to be shaking your head saying it's a brand-new race with 33 days to go," Christie said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Romney and Obama will debate for the first time Wednesday night in Denver. On Sunday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he didn't believe any one event could dramatically alter the course of the campaign. Christie appeared to do the opposite.

"Wednesday night's the restart of this campaign," Christie said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."

A top Democrat immediately pointed to Christie raising the bar. "Governor Christie --and I think this is clearly the Romney belief -- is raising expectations for what's going to happen in this debate," Obama senior adviser David Plouffe said on ABC.