NJ Gov. Chris Christie at a town hall in Sandown, NH on Tuesday June 30
Steinhauser: Now candidate Christie makes some campaign history
SANDOWN– Chris Christie, going where no presidential candidate has ventured in years.
Sandown politicians telling NH1 News that the New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Tuesday became the first White House contender in recent memory to hold a rally in the small central Rockingham County town that’s located far from any highway.
Sandown was the location Christie political aides picked for their first stop on the campaign trail following the governor’s launch of his White House run at a rally at the Livingston, New Jersey high school where he graduated.
Christie, with his wife and kids in tow, proclaiming to the standing room only crowd at the Sandown town hall that “I want to tell everyone in New Hampshire I want to be the next president of the United States and I intend to win this election.”
This is Christie’s tenth trip to New Hampshire so far this year, and the town hall was the tenth he’s held in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
As he’s done at past town halls, Christie criticized President Obama, saying “we already bought something on hope and change and look what it got us.”
And he once again fired away at Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a rival for the GOP nomination. Slamming Paul’s moves to derail the Patriot Act and the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, Christie said that “Senator Paul has made this country less safe and if I become president, we’ll protect the homeland.”
At his campaign kickoff in New Jersey, Christie promised to tell it like it is, saying “when I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you there is one thing you will know for sure. I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that's what America needs right now.”
Christie kept that theme going at the Sandown rally. Surrounded by posters that said “telling it like it is town hall tour,” Christie responded to a question about rising pharmaceutical prices by saying
“I’m not going to give you an easy answer. This answer is a lot more complicated.”
Christie highlighted his national security credentials and touted himself as “the only candidate in the race” willing to tackle tough issues like entitlement reforms. His blunt language and attention to details grabbed him a rave review from one questioner in the audience who said “the specifics you’ve given tonight are refreshing.”
NH Christie's ticket back?
Following his landslide re-election in November 2013, Christie was considered a top contender for the GOP nomination. But thanks to the George Washington Bridge controversy, which grabbed national headlines for much of 2014, and to budget and pension problems in the Garden State, Christie’s poll numbers at home and across the country plummeted. He’s now considered a long shot for the nomination.
But Christie’s an experienced retail politician, and he’s hoping that New Hampshire’s trademark retail politics will be his ticket to put him back into contention in the 2016 race. While he’s made some trips to Iowa and South Carolina, the GOP primary electorate in the Granite State is much more agreeable to a northeastern Republican who’s treated suspiciously by many in the party’s conservative base.
So it was no surprise that New Hampshire is Christie’s first stop after announcing for the White House, and that he’s spending five straight days campaigning in the Granite State.
Problems back home give Democrats fuel
Even though he’s low in the polls, Christie remains in the cross hairs of Democrats. One of his most vocal critics is New Jersey Democratic Party Chairman John Currie, who’s asked for Christie to step down as governor.
“When the governor goes to New Hampshire, that’s means there’s less damage he can do to our economy down here in New Jersey. He’s turned this state into a disaster,” Currie said in an interview with NH1 News.
“This guy is running on a slogan ‘telling it like it is.’ He’s not telling it like it is at all,” Currie added. “I would simply say to the Republicans of New Hampshire: ‘Would you want him to do to the United States of America what he’s done to New Jersey.”
New Jersey’s latest unemployment rate (6.5% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is higher than surrounding states, and the Garden State’s credit rating has been cut a record nine times since Christie took office in January 2010.