Christie: Debate will turn race "upside-down"

(CBS News) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Mitt Romney has gone through a rough patch recently but said Wednesday's debates will mark a new stage in the Republican candidate's campaign.

"He's had a tough couple of weeks," Christie said on "Face the Nation." "I mean, I'm not going to sit here and come on this morning and sugarcoat the last couple weeks."

Christie, who raised Romney's debate expectations, added, "This whole race is going to turn upside down come Thursday morning," referring to the morning after the first presidential debate.

"He's going to lay out his vision for America," Christie said, adding that he will use the debate to contrast his view and record with the president's. "And the first time a majority of the people who are going to vote in this race will have an opportunity to make that direct comparison."

Christie said Romney has a history of performing well in debates, pointing to the 20 debates held during the Republican primary. "That's where he shines," Christie said.

The New Jersey Governor argued that he doesn't think Americans are focused on Romney's remarks caught on tape regarding 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes. "They know political candidates... are going to say things inartfully."

"But here's what I know he really believes. What he believes is that everybody in America should have skin in the game. Everybody in America has to be part of a shared sacrifice to create opportunity for greatness again, for our people and our country," Christie said. 

When asked by host Bob Schieffer about Mitt Romney's plans for Medicare, Christie said seniors don't have to worry about changes to the program but that Romney would make changes for people like him. "They're going to change Medicare for folks like me, who just turned 50 and younger," Christie said.

Without going into details of what Romney's plan, which is the same plan as his running mate Paul Ryan, which would include a voucher for seniors to purchase health care from private insurance companies, Christie pivoted to President Obama's Medicare position.

"He's not being honest with the American people," Christie said, adding that the president's "dirty little secret" is that he knows the program must change but has failed to admit it to the public.

As for a presidential run, Christie dodged the question and said he hopes to be working for Mitt Romney's reelection in 2016.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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