Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was back in New Hampshire on Thursday with a blunt message for Granite State Republicans: Dump Trump or “Live Free or Die” is dead.
“Now look, if you guys wind up voting for Trump a third time, you’ve got to give up the slogan,” Christie told a conference hall filled with roughly 250 potential voters. “Because if you support Donald Trump now, then ‘Live Free or Die’ is bull.”
Christie’s New Hampshire campaign continues despite polls showing him languishing a distant third behind Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. But Christie, who is ignoring the Iowa contest altogether, insisted he’s going the distance and vowed to keep the heat on both Trump and Haley. In particular, he’s highlighted missteps by Haley on the Granite State campaign trail.
Earlier this week at an event in Milford, Haley said New Hampshire voters have an opportunity to “correct” the results of the Iowa caucuses, where Trump is expected to win. You know Iowa starts it. You know that you correct it,” she joked in front of the town hall attendees. “And then my sweet state of South Carolina brings it home.”
Her opponents pounced, accusing her of insulting the voters of the Hawkeye State. DeSantis campaign communications director Andrew Romeo said Haley’s “closing argument is insulting Iowans by saying their votes will need to be corrected.”
Christie told reporters after Thursday’s town hall that Haley “is what she is.”
“It doesn’t affect my candidacy, at least when she’s here,” he said. “When she’s in Iowa, she’s someone different.
“I think the people in Iowa saw yesterday that she’s willing to say anything to an audience to try to curry their favor. A day before she leaves for Iowa and takes (New Hampshire Gov. Chris) Sununu with her, she mocks Iowa voters just to get a laugh out of New Hampshire voters. That’s just immature. I mean, grow up.”
Earlier, a potential voter asked Christie during his question-and-answer session what finally led him to decide that Trump was unfit for office. Christie said it was the night of the presidential election in 2020 when Trump “came out at 2:30 in the morning and said the election had been stolen.”
He later said Trump believes he wasn’t reelected “because he wasn’t enough of a dictator.”
“He loves dictators because he aspires to be one,” Christie added.
Meanwhile, Mark McCabe, a Christie supporter and U.S. Navy veteran from Pelham, told NHJournal he began backing the New Jersey governor in 2014.
“As a GOP governor in a heavy-Democrat state, he made it work, McCabe said. “He got people together for the common good, and guess what? That’s not happening in our Congress.”
McCabe acknowledged that while he’s disappointed with Christie’s polling in New Hampshire, he’s counting on independents to deliver for Christie.
“This is why he’s focused on New Hampshire,” said McCabe. “I know this to be true – Democrat voter friends of ours who are independent but lean left like what he’s saying. I think there are many more independents staying on the down-low.”
One independent voter who wasn’t shy about expressing his support for Christie was Dave Tiffany of Hollis.
Christie called on Tiffany during his Q-and-A, who said his car sports a “bumper sticker from 2016 that says, ‘Don’t blame me, I voted for Bernie.’”
“But this time around, I’m voting for Chris Christie,” Tiffany said.
Christie was also queried by another potential voter about how he’d vote if it came down to Biden or Trump.
“I won’t vote for either. Trump is unfit, and Biden is incompetent,” Christie said. “And if that’s the choice that our political system gives to the American people, then we don’t have an obligation to vote for either one of them.”
“There might be some third-party choices, but we don’t know.”
Another audience member asked Christie if he’d ever consider supporting independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy announced Wednesday he secured enough signatures from registered Utah voters to qualify for that state’s ballot and estimated it would cost his campaign $15 million to qualify in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“I’ll certainly never vote for RFK Jr because he’s nuts,” Christie told the crowd. “His father was one thing. Him? I’m not so sure.
“It’s the definition of a bad campaign. When you announce your candidacy for president, and three of your siblings come out and say they wouldn’t vote for him in a million years – that’s a bad start. My siblings have said nothing.”
Christie said the incompetence in both major political parties is “the reason why there’s a third party movement bubbling up in this country” and pointed to recent polls showing most Americans don’t want either Biden or Trump as president.
Asked by NHJournal if he’d ever consider mounting a third-party run as an alternative to Trump as the GOP nominee, Christie brushed off the question.
“I’ve always said no,” Christie said.