GOP Rivals Go On The Attack After Christie's Star Rises In New Hampshire New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been investing a lot of time in New Hampshire, and his opponents are starting to attack him there — a sign he's seen as a threat.
NPR logo

GOP Rivals Go On The Attack After Christie's Star Rises In New Hampshire

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/462114289/462114290" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
GOP Rivals Go On The Attack After Christie's Star Rises In New Hampshire

GOP Rivals Go On The Attack After Christie's Star Rises In New Hampshire

GOP Rivals Go On The Attack After Christie's Star Rises In New Hampshire

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/462114289/462114290" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been investing a lot of time in New Hampshire, and his opponents are starting to attack him there — a sign he's seen as a threat.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's turn to the presidential race in this country. We're a month ahead of the New Hampshire primary, and the stakes are high for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That primary might be his best shot at carving a path to the nomination in the Republican side. Although he's been struggling in the polls and with fundraising, rivals are attacking Christie like he's a front-runner in New Hampshire. Here's NPR's Sarah McCammon.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Chris Christie's message to Republican voters is simple. This campaign has been entertaining, but now...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Showtime is over. It's game time.

MCCAMMON: During a town hall meeting at a grade school in Concorde, the New Jersey governor said the country needs a president who's not afraid to make tough decisions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: We don't need a president who's going to sit behind that desk on the first day, spin around in the chair and say, gee whiz, isn't it amazing I'm president.

MCCAMMON: Christie is campaigning hard in New Hampshire, hosting dozens of town halls and talking up his record of working with the Democratic legislature and helping his state recover from super-storm Sandy. It's a format where his bold personality shines, cracking jokes, occasionally arguing with questioners and often talking with voters for over two hours. In Concorde, he had some advice for a fifth-grader about the importance of studying hard.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: And I know it's hard for guys like you and I to believe. But we are not going to get by in life just on our charm and good looks.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAMMON: Here in New Hampshire, Christie is closing in on Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the polls. But Donald Trump solidly leads the pack. At Saint Anselm College in Manchester, Christie addressed the frustration that's driving many voters this year but asked them to channel it into supporting a serious candidate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: Let's take this righteous anger and frustration and make it productive for our party and for our nation. I'm not afraid of these emotions. For God sakes, I'm from New Jersey.

MCCAMMON: But Christie's record as governor of New Jersey is a vulnerability. Super PACs supporting Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich have launched ads in New Hampshire that take aim at Christie. They highlight, among other things, New Jersey's budget deficit. Christie says that's a good sign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: I think the reason they're coming after me now is because I'm doing well. And my message is connecting up here in New Hampshire. And so, you know, I'm - it's good to be attacked. It means I'm in the game.

MCCAMMON: After a town hall with Christie hosted by the Manchester Rotary, Republican voter Paula Porter said he thinks the party should choose a nominee who knows how to govern.

PAUL PORTER: There's something wrong in this country when a totally inexperienced politician can lead the pack at this stage.

MCCAMMON: Porter likes a lot of things Donald Trump is saying, but he thinks Christie is more suited to being a leader.

PORTER: I think he is tough enough to deal with what's going on in the world in a direct but politically astute manner. And I think that that really is a requirement.

MCCAMMON: Christie also argued that he has the political skills to bring the party together and beat the likely Democratic nominee.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: Close your eyes and picture Hillary Rodham Clinton on the front steps of the Capitol in January of 2017, taking the oath of office as president of the United States.

MCCAMMON: The stakes are high for Chris Christie in New Hampshire. And he's warning his fellow Republicans the stakes are high for them too. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Manchester.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.