Christie Pounds the Airwaves Against Opponent, Despite Huge Lead in Gubernatorial Campaign


The source insisted that Christie's potential run for president in 2016 is an after-thought as strategists map out the air assault for his gubernatorial re-election, although he admitted that a big margin of victory this year would help him going into a national run.

"It would be great for Christie and his future to run up the score, but that's not the main thing. In New Jersey, things change very fast, and you have to always watch your flank," the Republican said.

As for the RGA, it's easy to see why, despite the gap in the two candidates, it would want to help. Christie campaigned heavily for Republican candidates in 2012, often traveling out of state to help other Republicans, and he's also on the RGA's executive committee. If he wins in 2014, he will go on to lead the group. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 primary challenger for Christie, heads the group now.

John Weingart, the associate director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University, said, "One contributor to his [Christie's] large lead is everyone knows who he is, and most people do not know who Barbara Buono is, so for candidates in that position it makes sense, given he has so much money for his campaign, to try to define Buono. ... It's a potentially effective way to do that instead of waiting until the fall where there will be more publicity and she will have more of her ads."

Weingart said there would be even more national attention on Christie as November gets closer, and Christie might want to grow his lead now so he doesn't need to be running negative ads then, all with the possibility of 2016 in mind.

"In October, he could run a very positive campaign, which would potentially be more appealing to people throughout the country who might be starting to look at him as a possible presidential candidate so the last image of this race would be to win with a campaign that seems attractive and to have had coattails where some legislative challengers were successful," Weingart said, referring to GOP state legislative candidates. "I think it is advantageous to a presidential campaign to be elected in a state that leans Democratic and to be able to say, 'When I was elected it was reasonably close, and when I was re-elected I won by a lot.'"

Weingart warned that Christie is defending himself against the unexpected, and if Buono were to raise even 5 or 10 points in the polls as the race gets closer, national money could come pouring in, and it's in the "interest of the Christie campaign to prevent that from happening."

There is also a historical perspective that Weingart said Christie would undoubtedly have on his mind. In 1985, Gov. Tom Kean -- New Jersey's most beloved Republican and Christie's mentor -- won with the largest margin of victory in the history of New Jersey gubernatorial races, defeating his Democratic opponent 71 percent to 24 percent.

That may be impossible now, but Weingart said Christie would love to have those "bragging rights in both a political and personal sense."

ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

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