Despite standing on a second banana stage, he looked confident and comfortably combative playing the role of tough-talking rust-belt Italian American big on law enforcement and unafraid to poke his finger in the spindly foreign policy chest of President Barack Obama.
But former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania had new-found company tonight that at times resembled a hologram duplicate of himself otherwise known as combative, tough-talking, self-proclaimed pro-law enforcement Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
In a strange Fox Business News debate ostensibly packaged as an “all adults” kiddie debate forum in the aftermath of what Republicans widely disparaged as a CNBC fiasco of reporters run amok, Santorum and Christie played the north against former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Team South.
Barely a blip in the polls, Jindal spent much of the evening waging onslaught after onslaught against new-body-on-stage Christie, apparently operating under the assumption that if he could chip at the armor of someone a digit or two higher he could be the next Carly Fiorina and graduate from the infernal company of Santorum.
Jindal cited a New Jersey budget up 15% under Christie coupled with multiple credit downgrade.
“We need a conservative, not a big government Republican,” the Louisianan groused.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton in her last debate performance, Christie decided not to Lincoln Chafee Jindal, complimenting his fellow Republican governor rather than treating him like the utter non-entity the polls reflect.
But Jindal kept coming.
“I’ll give you a ribbon for participation and maybe a juice box,” he swiped at Christie, again eschewing Christie’s GOP Presidential Primary packaging as a conservative.
The New Jersey governor stepped gracefully around the trap, keeping his sights on Clinton with a boiled down argument that he’s the best equipped Republican to beat her. “Hillary Clinton doesn’t want any part of me when I’m debating her and prosecuting her,” Christie said.
Jindal kept the narrative of his contrast with Christie front and center, and into the argument of his closing statement.
“A lot of governors talk about cutting government spending,” he said. “I’ve actually done it.”