- Both sides have played low-expectations game about Wednesday's debate
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defies GOP, predicts debate will be game-changer for Romney
- Christie's prediction sets high expectations for Romney, who is running behind
Apparently, Chris Christie didn't get the memo.
"Wednesday night is the restart of this campaign, and I think you're going to see those numbers start to move right back in the other direction," the Republican New Jersey governor said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Note to Gov. Christie: No, no, no, no, no. Standard operating procedure for pre-debate chatter is to lower expectations for your guy by raising expectations for the other guy.
The way Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, did on Fox:
"President Obama is a very -- he's a very gifted speaker. ... The man's been on the national stage for many years, he's an experienced debater."
And because this is a bipartisanly accepted strategy, Obama's guy David Plouffe did it too:
"We have expected all along that Gov. Romney will have a good night. He has prepared more than any candidate in history. And he has shown himself to be a very, very good debater through the years."
Further, governor, since you are supporting the candidate who is running behind (You are supporting him, right?), then you also need to lower the stakes for Wednesday's first of three presidential debates.
As John McCain told me: "Frankly, I can't remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody's attention because, frankly, the candidates are too well-prepared. They're well-scripted."
And as Ryan did (obviously he got the memo):
"I don't think one event is going to make or break this campaign."
But definitely, Gov. Christie, definitely not the way you did:
"And I'm telling you, Thursday morning, you're all going to be scratching your heads and saying, 'Wow, we have a barn-burner now for the next 33 days.' "
Because the thing is, when you say that, Plouffe says stuff like this:
"They expect to come out of this with the race fundamentally changed. Now, what does that mean? If it's going to fundamentally change, that means in seven or 10 days from now you'll see states like Ohio tied, the state of Iowa tied, because that's what really matters here."
You know what they say, governor -- there's no heavier burden than great expectations.
On the other hand, you may be onto something: Actually believing (you do, right?) and saying out loud (which you did) that you think your guy will do great.
Talk to you Thursday morning?