Third 2024 Republican presidential debate

Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort on November 4 in Kissimmee, Florida.
Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort on November 4 in Kissimmee, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A senior adviser to Chris Christie’s campaign told CNN that tonight’s debate provides many opportunities, among them, more time to focus on the issues that matter to the American public and as of late, the world.   

“The situation in the world is dramatically different than a month ago,” the adviser said, alluding to the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel and its ensuing fallout. 

Along those lines, the adviser said there’s an opportunity to show “he’s a serious person for serious times,” and not get bogged down in bickering among candidates on smaller issues. 

“I don’t think you’re going to see the governor engage in that,” they said. 

Though two sources close to Christie told CNN on Wednesday they don’t expect him to engage much in the tensions between candidates on stage, the campaign sent out a fundraising email earlier in the day specifically calling out Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley on a list titled “debate stage prep.”

A campaign spokesperson told CNN the campaign expects foreign policy issues, like Israel and Ukraine, as well as results of Tuesday’s elections and how Republicans can turn around recent losses, to be a focus.

On the issue of abortion, the spokesperson said “we don’t expect it to be something we linger on,” adding that Christie is comfortable with his stance on the issue.

The former New Jersey governor laid out again on CNN last night his belief that abortion restrictions should be determined at the state level, unless there is a national consensus, which he acknowledges is unlikely with the current divide in Congress.

There are also less candidates on the stage, leading to a simple calculation. 

“It’s smaller, less people, more time,” the adviser said. 

The spokesperson said no particular candidate is “in the crosshairs” for Christie’s sparring.

Instead, the former New Jersey governor is expected to draw contrasts with rivals on issues, including their willingness to confront front runner Donald Trump, who will not be on stage.

There is no magical “killshot” in this debate, “You take your shots when you see your spots,” the adviser said. “Smart candidates know who they are and they continually show who they are through a series of debates.”

“This campaign’s a war of attrition,” they said.

Christie is joined in Miami, Florida, by his wife, Mary Pat, whom he’s said he looks to for debate feedback, as well as his two daughters, according to the spokesperson.


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