NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Donald Trump is increasingly directing his venom at Chris Christie — and that might actually be a good sign for the New Jersey governor, a political expert says.
“He now sees Chris Christie as a threat,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “This is probably the biggest validation that Chris Christie has gotten on his presidential campaign.
“Donald Trump only goes after those candidates who he feels are creeping up on him.”
Murray said he sees Christie and Trump fighting for the same voters.
“With some of these statements that Donald Trump’s making, Chris Christie hopes he can peel some of them off,” Murray said.
A Public Policy Polling survey released last week showed Christie had 10 percent support from Republicans in New Hampshire, where he has been focusing his campaign efforts. That’s up from just 3 percent in mid-October.
That, however, is still well behind Trump’s GOP-leading 27 percent.
At a campaign rally in South Carolina on Monday, Trump suggested Christie knew about the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge before they happened. The move appears to be political retribution aimed at the mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie in his re-election bid for governor.
A former Christie aide and one of his appointees to the Port Authority face federal charges over their alleged roles. Another Port Authority official has pleaded guilty. Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the plot beforehand.
“He knew about it,” Trump said. “How do you have breakfast with people every day of your lives (and not know)?”
Trump also attacked Christie on New Jersey’s credit downgrades under his leadership and for praising President Barack Obama’s response to Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey in 2012, just days before Obama’s re-election win over Republican Mitt Romney.
Last week, Trump also implied Christie was neglecting New Jersey while campaigning for president.