A milder Chris Christie? Don't expect it to last

“Christie should still be Christie,” Madden said. “I believe it has less to do with changing his style entirely and more to do with picking his spots or his battles wisely. There will be times where his no-nonsense, confrontational approach will still fit perfectly with an electorate that is tired of the status quo and tired of what Christie himself called ‘the blow-dried approach…

Dante Scala, a New Jersey native and professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, explained a key reason why this is so: “As others have pointed out, Christie’s combativeness is supposed to compensate for his moderation on certain issues important to the Republican primary electorate. If his assertiveness gave way to humble bipartisanship on the campaign trail, he becomes the Northeastern Republican version of Jon Huntsman ’12. And the trajectory for that type of candidate is at best flat, even in New Hampshire.”

Indeed, Christie’s reputation as an authentic, straight shooter is so central to his overall appeal in the media and among the general public, that if he were to lose that edge, all bets could be off.

And nowhere is that reality clearer than in the first-in-the-nation primary state, which likely will be a must-win contest for the Northeastern governor, if he hopes to become the Republican nominee.