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Why Chris Christie may have an edge in GOP race

Media consultant Mark Macias has offered up his analysis of the 2016 presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Here, is his assessment of Chris Christie's position in this horse race.

Donald Trump just might be the second best thing that happened to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Chris Christie
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Chris Christie

Christie recently announced he's running for president in 2016. Much of America might not know it yet, but if you live in New York or New Jersey and watch the local news, you know that Christie has an explosive temperament. You either love his brutal honesty or hate his bullying nature, but regardless of where you sit on the political couch, Christie's mouth can make any ear blush.

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For the past 6 years, Christie has owned the local political show as the only governor in the Tri-State area to speak his mind without reverence for diplomacy or political correctness. He called a Navy Seal an "idiot" when he challenged the governor publicly. When a teacher asked him why he said their schools and teachers were failing, Christie responded: "Because they are... I am tired of you people." And when another teacher questioned why she wasn't paid fairly, Christie was brutally honest: "Well you know what? Then you don't have to do it."

But now, there is a new controversial presidential candidate who is already overshadowing Christie. With Trump in the race, Christie suddenly seems more palatable.

Even the "Bridgegate" scandal, which accused Christie's administration of closing the George Washington Bridge in retaliation to a local mayor, seems like a school yard tussle compared to Trump and his fight with Macy's, Univision, NBC, Mexico, China, etc.

But will that palatable perception last? Or better yet, will voters in Iowa buy it?

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If I were consulting Christie, I would say, as long as he can bite his tongue and control his temper between now and New Hampshire, he just might have the political chops and finesse to charm his way with voters. Christie knows that deep, down inside, he can't be constantly combative if he's going to convince voters he should be in control of the nuclear button. He's also smart enough to know he has to be good and liked if he is going to win the nomination.

Christie is off to a great start by surrounding himself with smart strategists who understand how the media works. Immediately after his presidential announcement, Christie did an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, where he repositioned his temper as passion.

"I'm angry about the fact that taxpayers were being ripped off in New Jersey," Christie told Lauer. "I'm angry about the fact that our urban kids can't get a good education. I'm angry about those things — you're darn right I am. And I think America wants someone who's willing to fight for that."

Brilliant PR move: The sooner you address your point of weakness, the less persuasive your opponents sound. The person who tells the story first is in better control of the narrative. Christie didn't avoid the tough accusations like other presidential candidates have done. Instead, he addressed it straight on and unabashedly.

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Now, whether conservative voters buy into Christie's more moderate positions is another issue. He faces the same challenge that Rudy Giuliani had when he ran for president in 2008: He's a moderate on social issues that are crucial to the conservative base.

So, if Trump is the second-best thing to happen to Christie, what's the first? All of the other 13 GOP contenders combined.

Publicity is difficult in any crowded field because it's harder to stand out from the pack. When smart phones first hit the market, it was easy to get publicity for mobile apps because they were rare. Today, the market for mobile apps is saturated, making it more difficult to get your story told. It's the same for the GOP candidates. Fiorina, Carson, Graham, Pataki, Paul, Perry — for the typical voter, those names run together like a Jindal, I mean jingle. This is where Christie will shine.

He understands, like Trump, how to move the media needle. He has governed a big state, like Jeb Bush and Rick Perry. He has big donors behind him, like Marco Rubio. But unlike those other candidates — Trump, Bush, Perry and Rubio - Christie doesn't have their baggage. No one will question Christie's bravado and experience against Rubio. Christie seems less volatile than Trump, who seems to threaten a new company every day on the campaign trail. Sure, Perry was the longest-running governor of Texas and Bush was governor of a swing state, but Christie was elected governor twice in a blue state.

But much of the minutiae will be lost in the crowded presidential debates. When you have 10 candidates on one stage trying to explain a position in under 90 seconds, the only thing voters will remember is how the candidates came across. And who can forget how Christie comes across.

As long as Christie can be direct and respectful, he just might have a winning edge to the nomination, assuming he can win over the conservative base.

Commentary by Mark Macias, head of Macias PR, a global public-relations firm, that has run media and branding campaigns for politicians, tech start-ups, financial firms, nonprofits and companies. He's also author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media." Follow him on Twitter @markmacias.