Republican presidential debate on Fox Business

Chris Christie speaks at Erick Erickson's conservative political conference "The Gathering" in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 19.
Chris Christie speaks at Erick Erickson’s conservative political conference “The Gathering” in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 19. Cheney Orr/Reuters

Though Donald Trump will not be on the debate stage on Wednesday night, Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie will be squarely focused on his former ally, according to a campaign spokesperson.

Christie will call out Trump on both substantive policy issues and his conduct.

“This is going to be about Trump,” the spokesperson said.

Though Christie has said he’ll call out other candidates if they say something “ridiculous” on stage, the spokesperson made clear not to expect Christie to take “random punches” at his rivals. He’s focused on delivering his clear message about Trump to voters, particularly in New Hampshire.

In interactions with other candidates, Christie will attempt to “force contrast” on the stage by pointing out where his rivals stand on Trump. The spokesperson also said Christie is ready to own up to his record if confronted.

Though Christie has ramped up his campaign trail rhetoric against Vivek Ramaswamy after the pair shared contentious exchanges in the first debate, he denies his jabs at Ramaswamy are part of a larger strategy, saying last week in New Hampshire, “It’s just that he’s too easy to go after.”

Christie will be accompanied by his wife, Mary Pat, and son, Andrew, and will not have any surrogates in the spin room, according to the spokesperson, who also noted the former New Jersey governor will likely listen to “plenty of Bruce Springsteen” to prepare.

Christie told reporters last week he had had two prep sessions, and a senior source with the campaign told CNN his last debate prep session was Monday. He noted many of those helping him prep have been with him since 2009, when he was preparing to debate incumbent New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who he ultimately defeated.

“They’re not afraid to tell me the truth,” he said.

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