Story highlights

Christie risks being absent from the first Republican debate of the top 10 candidates with the highest poll numbers

Christie said his campaign looks forward to connecting with undecided voters

Watch more of Jake Tapper’s interview with Gov. Chris Christie on “State of the Union” Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.

(CNN) —  

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Jake Tapper in an interview that aired on Friday that it’s “premature” to dismiss Donald Trump’s viability over the long run in the presidential campaign.

Christie, speaking on “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” also touched upon recent poll numbers and commented on Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion that Trump’s rise was the result of “a temporary sort of loss of sanity.”

“Anybody can do well for a month in this business, especially if you have talent and personality. And Donald has both those things, so let’s see how it goes over the course of time,” he said. “I think Dr. Paul’s diagnosis is premature. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Christie risks being absent from the first Republican debate of the top 10 candidates with the highest poll numbers. But he said he is not discouraged and that he plans to make next week’s debate.

“Four years ago, Herman Cain was winning right now. Eight years ago, Rudy Giuliani was winning right now. So I think we all need take a deep breath. Campaigns matter,” he said. “What you do matters and it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Christie said his campaign looks forward to connecting with undecided voters.

“These folks in Iowa and New Hampshire particularly are notoriously late deciders. They want to hear everybody. They want to see everybody, digest all this stuff, and then they’ll make decisions,” Christie said.

Trump can shape how people perceive him by his response to policy issues, Christie added.

“Donald’s going to be as serious a candidate as he wants to be. He can determine through the depth of his answers, the seriousness of his answers, whether he’s a serious candidate or he isn’t,” Christie said.