Exclusive: Chris Christie Readies Return to the Main Debate Stage in Las Vegas

Chris Christie Muscles AP

LAS VEGAS – At tonight’s CNN debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie returns to the main debate stage, after a month that featured a remarkable turnaround for his campaign.

“I’m happy to be back on the stage, it’s great,” Christie said in an interview with Breitbart News after conducting a walkthrough of the CNN  debate theater here at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas this afternoon.

After missing the main debate stage for the Fox Business debate in November, the New Jersey governor pressed forward in New Hampshire, where rising poll numbers in that state pushed him back to the top tier of the Republican presidential field. A recent poll of New Hampshire showed Christie beating Sen. Marco Rubio for second place in New Hampshire, but still behind the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Christie is now the only governor in the race who is enjoying renewed political attention thanks to his campaign performance in New Hampshire. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Ohio Governor John Kasich have all watched their poll numbers dip after recent debate performances. Republican Governors Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal have all dropped out of the race.

Christie pointed to his experience governing New Jersey and his experience as a federal prosecutor for seven years as part of the reason that he was still in the political conversation, particularly as the conversation turned back to the threat of terrorism.

“That’s thirteen years of making decisions, seven of them in the national security space as a U.S. attorney prosecuting big terrorism cases and conducting lots of investigations on terrorism,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to a renewed focus on national security issues, arguing that he was the one in the room with the most experience on the issue.

“I’ve actually done it, the biggest difference me, and Rubio, Cruz and Paul is that I’ve actually done it … it’s not theoretical to me,” Christie said, referring to his executive leadership experience.

Since the attacks in Paris, Christie has argued that its more important than ever to have an executive with a steady hand in the White House instead of another inexperienced senator.

He specifically pointed to President Obama, a former Senator, and former Senator Hillary Clinton as proof that senators were unable to handle the test of leadership.

Instead of successfully navigating foreign policy challenges in Egypt and Libya, Christie explained that Clinton and Obama failed to meet the challenge, as well as mangling the exit of United States troops from Iraq, allowing ISIS to fill in the vacuum.

“I’ve done it, it’s not theoretical to me, it’s not some briefing paper from a staffer,” Christie said. “I’ve had to make decisions over and over again that have real life effects on people. That’s the difference between me and these guys.”

Senators, he hinted, spend more time trying to stand out from their colleagues in Washington D.C. instead of governing.

“I’ve never been one of a hundred. I don’t know what that’s like,” he said, referring to the entire Senate body, “I’ve only been one of one. That’s what a president is.”