Nov 30, 2015 4:55 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
PORTSMOUTH – Chris Christie says he’s “glad that Donald’s noticed me.”
The New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate, talking one-on-one with NH1 News, was responding to a critical tweet by GOP front runner Donald Trump.
Christie spoke with NH1 News Monday morning, minutes before formally receiving the much sought after endorsements of Renee and Dan Plummer, leading Republican activists along the Seacoast, and one day after he landed the backing of the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest and most influential newspaper.
Hours earlier, Trump, who rarely criticizes Christie, wrote on Twitter “How is Chris Christie running the state of NJ, which is deeply troubled, when he is spending all of his time in NH? New Jerseyans not happy!”
Asked to respond, Christie said “I’m willing to take whatever input and advice he always has, even if it’s in a 140 characters or less, which seems to be the best way for him to communicate. So it’s fine by me. I’m happy to be noticed by Donald.”
While other GOP White House candidates have fired away at some of Trump’s controversial comments, Christie has mostly refrained from attacking Trump, who he calls a friend.
Asked by NH1 News why, Christie said “because I’m talking about me. I don’t want to waste my time talking about other candidates. Let them spend their time talking about themselves. If they want to bicker among themselves, that’s their business. I’m focused on winning the nomination and beating Hillary Clinton. I think that’s what most Republicans are most concerned about. Whether you agree or disagree with Sen. Cruz or Sen. Rubio or Mr. Trump, that’s much less of a concern at the moment than making sure that Hillary Clinton doesn’t get within ten miles of the White House.”
“That’s’ what I’m focused on and if the Republican voters in New Hampshire want someone who can be laser focuses on beating Hillary Clinton and will be able to prosecute the case against her on that stage next fall, I’m the right guy,” he added.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the prospect of a Trump presidency is “kind of scary.”
Asked if he’s worried about the prospect of Trump as GOP nominee, Christie said “I’d be deeply troubled if anybody was the nominee other than me at the moment Paul, so I’m totally for me. I endorse me, I support me, and if I were in New Hampshire, I’d vote for me. But I’m not worried about who else the nominee might be, that’s pessimistic thinking.”
Christie’s N.H. campaign
Christie has racked up a bunch of endorsements in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Asked if he’s out working or out hustling his rivals for the nomination, Christie responded “I don’t know if it’s that or if it’s just that our message is better and stronger and more experienced. Listen, people in New Hampshire are used to being fawned upon, I think by candidates, so I don’t think that’s really it. You need to do that. You need to pay attention to folks and listen and meet them lots of times. But I think in the end what these folks are really buying into is that I’m the most tested and ready person to take on Hillary Clinton.”
“And so I’m thrilled to have Renee and Danny’s endorsement. It’s really great. I’m really happy to get the Union Leader endorsement too. I know there’s lot of other people who wanted it so I’m glad I’m the guy who got it,” he added.
While he’s spent more time and held more town halls in the Granite State than any other GOP contender, Christie’s poll numbers are still hovering in the mid-single digits. But he said he’s not changing his strategy “because it’s working. It’s working with the folks in New Hampshire who really matter and they’re the folks who are going to make sure that we get our vote out on February 9th. They’re the folks who are going to make sure that the good word is passed around because as you know as well as anybody, New Hampshire voters decide very late, so even people who are expressing a preference right now, if it’s for me or somebody else, could very well change their mind between now and February 9th, and most likely will.”
National security and terrorism are the top issues right now on the campaign trail, following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month. But Christie’s been talking about these issues for months and months.
“I just think what voters are saying to themselves right now is wow ‘this guy was talking to us about this in April and May and now something actually happened and isn’t that the kind of person we want sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, somebody who wasn’t’ talking about this when it was the soup du jour but was talking about this at a time when no one was talking about it.’ You know the NSA meta data program ends today. This is a tragedy for our country because Paris, I absolutely believe this Paul, that Paris will be seen when all the investigations are done as an intelligence failure. That this was being planned and plotted and we missed it. And France missed it. And I’m going to continue to talk about these issues because they’re the most important issues to America. If our national security isn’t safe, if we not protecting the homeland, all the rest of these issues become second tier issues,” he said.
Christie has also been very outspoken when it comes to New Hampshire’s acute heroin epidemic. And he labels Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton a Johnny-come-lately to the issue.
“Unlike Hillary Clinton who said she didn’t know there was a heroin epidemic until she came and visited New Hampshire, I’ve been a governor in a state for the last six years with a heroin epidemic and before that for seven years I was a prosecutor prosecuting drug cases and seeing how badly it was affecting every type of family in New Jersey and I know that’s exactly what’s happening in New Hampshire,” Christie said.
Plummers heavily courted
The endorsements by Dan and Renee Plummer were first reported by NH1 News on Saturday. They made it official at a business round table luncheon Monday, with Renee declaring that “we are formally endorsing Gov. Chris Christie for president of the United States in 2016.”
Christie quickly responded to laughter that “to win the Plummer primary is like a really good prelude to February 9.”
Christie closed his opening remarks to the audience with a description to date of the wild GOP nomination battle.
“This has been an entertaining primary so far, even to be a participant in, it’s been entertaining. It has been. A lot of really good folks. A lot of colorful characters. A lot of people from different walks of American life who decided to offer themselves up for president of the United States. That’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for our party, it’s a good thing for our country,” Christie said.
“But it’s game time now everybody. We’re 68 days away from the New Hampshire primary. It’s game time,” he added.
And in an apparent veiled attack at some of the younger candidates running, such as Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and the outsiders like Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, Christie said “new is great, new is wonderful, new is exciting, new is shiny, new is untarnished. New is fabulous until you need experience.”
The Plummers were courted by a bunch of the GOP candidates, but they told NH1 News that Christie won them over on the issues, with his town hall and debate performances, and with his openness.
“You could ask him anything and he’d have an answer. He’d explain how he came up with his position,” Dan Plummer said.
“This is important for the nation and we feel as if we have a responsibility for the rest of the country that does not have the opportunity to be sitting in front of a Chris Christie or for that matter any of the other candidates. So we’re very serious when we’re with the candidates, watching them, listening to them and seeing how other people react to them,” Renee Plummer added.
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