Most political experts thought Gov. Chris Christie did a fairly good job in the first Republican presidential debate, but the performance did nothing to help him in the polls.

Gov. Chris Christie at the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook on August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Currently he is in 11th place nationally, according to Realclearpolitics.com, which averages recent polls. In addition, Christie is tied for ninth place in New Hampshire, where he has spent a lot of time campaigning. So what should Christie’s strategy be in the second debate Wednesday night?

“We can expect a little bit of the loose cannon that we in New Jersey have gotten to know, but I also think there is a temptation for him to act like a senior statesman and talk serious policy. The trick is going to be to be able to get the cameras to pay attention to him to get questioners to ask him questions. In short, to become relevant,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.


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The governor needs to be a different Chris Christie because he went from being described as frank to being described as caustic and people just don’t want caustic in a president, according to Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley.

“He needs to be humorful and he needs to be succinct,” suggested Woolley. “He should make fun of himself. He should make fun of republican candidates. He should make fun of the debate. He can obviously do that. He’s good at it.”

In an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in late August, Christie vowed to “go nuclear” if he felt insulted or slighted during the second debate. Harrison didn’t expect the governor to keep that promise.

“That may win him some very short term media coverage, but I don’t think that that kind of behavior is enough to move him significantly in the polls. I don’t think it’s enough to make him a contender as it were,” Harrison said.

The elephant in the room will be Donald Trump, who holds a commanding lead in the polls. Real Clear Politics shows Trump leading the second place Ben Carson by 12 full percentage points although Carson has been gaining ground in recent surveys. Woolley had advice for Christie on how to best deal with Trump.

“Everybody’s going to be looking for the next dust up with Donald Trump. He (Christie) should not throw fuel on the bonfire named Donald Trump. He feeds off of other people’s personal criticisms so, bypass that and go for the policy. Criticize policy. Don’t criticize people," Woolley recommended.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at kevin.mcardle@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevinmcardle1.