Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the latest presidential candidate to grace the stage at the “No B.S. BBQ” hosted by former U.S. Sen. and Ambassador Scott Brown and his wife Gail Huff Brown Monday night. And he made it clear he wasn’t there to make nice with former President Donald Trump or the GOP candidates who Christie believes are empowering him.

“I will never raise my hand that it’s okay that a convicted felon can be president,” Christie said at one point. At another, he mocked entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy as a “shallow” 38-year-old.

But talking with voters after his remarks, it wasn’t Christie’s handling of the issues or his sharp attacks against fellow candidates that stood out to them. They just liked Christie, the person.

“He’s a really high-quality guy,” said Jim Burns of New Castle, N.H.

“I’ve always been a fan of his,” John Dye of Portsmouth, N.H., told NHJournal. “When he was the governor [of New Jersey], he was just no-nonsense, tells it like it is, pisses people off, and shakes it up, so I’m hoping he shakes it up in this election.”

“This is the third time I’ve been to a Chris Christie town hall,” said Nancy Ryan of Lee, N.H. “I find him quite personable, very honest in his answers. I’ve not made a decision about who I’m going to support in 2024 — and I’m a registered Democrat — and so if I were advising a friend, I would say look very, very closely at Governor Christie to my Republican friends.”

Christie only spent a few minutes delivering a stump speech before he began taking questions.

In response to a question about free speech, Christie used the opportunity to take a jab at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Governor DeSantis is down there kicking the hell out of Disney. Look, I don’t like some of the stuff Disney did, but you know what? It’s their choice to do it.”

On the issue of abolishing certain federal departments and agencies, Christie took aim at Ramaswamy.

“I would not eliminate the FBI. This is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard.” Rather, Christie called to possibly eliminate or at least radically reform the Departments of Education and Homeland Security.

“Don’t throw that out for a sound bite at a debate to make yourself sound like you’re really smart and aggressive, when you’re really shallow and only 38 years old,” Christie said.

Christie has been polling similarly to DeSantis and Ramaswamy, and he just received some of his best numbers nationally. In a Rasmussen Reports poll released last week, Christie was tied with DeSantis for second place at nine percent, behind the former president’s 45 percent.

The former governor of New Jersey has seen some of his best polling in New Hampshire. Emerson College Polling had Christie alone in second behind the former president at nine percent about a month ago, and last week a poll by NMB Research on behalf of the Competitiveness Coalition and The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy had Christie at eight percent support — tied with Ramaswamy and behind Trump, DeSantis, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

It’s no secret that Christie’s campaign hinges on success in New Hampshire. And his main pitch to Granite State voters Monday centered on two main points: “New Hampshire’s going to decide” and “We’ve got to start nominating people who can win again.”

“And the reason I believe New Hampshire can and will do it, is because I’ve seen you do it before,” Christie told the room. “When everybody thinks they’ve got you figured out, you’re not.”

Christie envisions New Hampshire as the first crack in Donald Trump’s stronghold on the party. “I think much of the former president’s support is based upon inevitability. People think, ‘Well, all right, he’s going to be the nominee so I might as well be for him.’ The minute they know that it’s not a foregone conclusion, and they’ll know that because of what you all do, the whole race changes.”

Nancy Ryan of Lee sees New Hampshire as Christie’s best shot, too. “I think he’s doing a smart thing to focus on New Hampshire,” she told NHJournal. “I think he can get a real footing here, maybe gain some ground.”

But holding him back from surpassing this eight-to-nine percent support in the polls appears to be his favorability numbers. In the Competitiveness Coalition and The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy poll, Christie was the most unpopular Republican presidential candidate among likely New Hampshire GOP voters. With a 23 percent favorable rating and a 66 percent unfavorable rating, his net favorability was -43 percent.

Yet, John Dye of Portsmouth thinks Christie has a shot to take down both Trump and Biden. “I think so, I think so…. It’s still early.”

The Browns’ “No B.S. BBQs” represent quintessential campaigning in the First-in-the-Nation primary state. Drawing large crowds and media attention, maximizing retail politics, and giving every voter an opportunity to have a potential president’s ear, the Browns have almost single-handedly shown how seriously New Hampshire takes its primary status.

“People come, they have a hot dog, maybe grab a beer, and they get to see the candidates up close and personal,” Ambassador Brown told NHJournal. “It’s very interactive.”

“We’ve had some really intense back and forths,” Brown added. “DeSantis had a couple of climate guys show up who were pretty aggressive, but he handled it well.”

According to Brown, so far he and Gail have hosted eight presidential candidates, including Asa Hutchinson, Francis Suarez, Mike Pence, and Doug Burgum. Of note, Nikki Haley had over 400 people show up for her event in the rain, DeSantis saw a large crowd as well, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott brought the largest crowd yet (around 425 people). “He was amazing,” Brown said of Scott and his turnout.

The Browns are hosting Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday, September 13. Ambassador Brown told NHJournal that he will invite former President Trump and hopes to see him at a “No B.S. BBQ” in the future.