Chris Christie Archives - Page 3 of 21 - SaintPetersBlog

Today on Context Florida: Hillary Clinton wins Florida, healthcare costs, Chris Christie, homelessness and women-owned business

Today on Context Florida:

Steve Schale explains why Hillary Clinton should easily defeat Bernie Sanders in Florida’s presidential primary. For the first time in a while, the Florida Democratic Primary will mean something.  For Bernie Sanders, it is a chance to prove he can win a big, diverse state.  For Hillary Clinton, it is an opportunity to solidify her position as the party’s standard-bearer. Yet, unless something dramatic changes, Schale says Clinton will win Florida and firmly position herself as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.

Falling behind only terrorism and the economy, Charles Evans says the rising cost of health care is very much on the minds of voters across the country. That’s certainly the case in Florida as we approach the presidential primary on March 15. Voters want solutions to one of the most expensive items in the family budget and on the corporate balance sheet, Evans says. While Washington may have failed to provide a solution with the Affordable Care Act, Florida lawmakers are offering a bold plan to reduce health care costs.

Chris Christie had a distinguished political career as a federal prosecutor who put organized crime members and terrorists in federal prisons. Elected as governor of New Jersey in 2009, Christie was easily elected in 2013 in a state that has been hostile to Republicans. Darryl Paulson describes how Christie’s national political ambitions suffered a severe setback in 2014 when individuals in his administration ordered the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey and New York to punish a political opponent.

On behalf of hard-working families, seniors, veterans, those experiencing homelessness and those with special needs throughout the state, the Florida Senate and House of Representatives took a positive step this week. Together, both chambers came to an agreement on funding for affordable housing, recommending that $214.1 million be appropriated from Florida’s housing trust funds toward affordable housing. Jamie Ross of the Sadowski Coalition says his group is thankful for all the hard work that the Senate and House have put into this budget. They applaud them for coming to agreement on this vital issue that affects Floridians in all corners of the state while also including more than $5.2 million for homeless and other housing projects.

In the Pensacola area, Shannon Nickinson notes that more and more women are starting businesses of their own. Forbes reports that one-fourth of all enterprises in the country is owned by women and that a rising number of women-owned businesses are topping the $1 million mark. Nationally women own 36 percent of companies. In the Pensacola metro area, 38.5 percent of firms are owned by women. Women are equal owners in another 7.7 percent of Pensacola’s businesses. Of the 14,718 businesses led or co-owned by women in the two-county area, 2,172 have paid employees. Those companies support 17,124 jobs in the Pensacola area’s economy.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

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Chris Christie on Donald Trump appearance: ‘I wasn’t being held hostage’

Anyone worried that Republican Gov. Chris Christie was being held hostage by Donald Trump as he stood, seemingly shell-shocked, behind the GOP presidential front-runner on Super Tuesday can rest easy.

“No, I wasn’t being held hostage. No, I wasn’t sitting up there thinking, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done?'” Christie said Thursday back home in New Jersey. “I don’t know what I was supposed to be doing. All these armchair psychiatrists should give it a break.”

He said his face was stoic because he was listening as Trump spoke. In

“I stood where they asked me to stand. What do I care? Do you think I really care? … I really don’t,” he said. “Next week there will be an Internet freakout about something else.”

InChristie also said he won’t heed calls from a handful of newspapers to resign and will continue helping Trump’s campaign. His defense of endorsing the billionaire developer came as two former Republican presidential nominees — including Mitt Romney on Thursday — and 70 national security experts warned that Trump was unfit to be commander in chief.

Christie said he doesn’t agree with Trump on everything, though he wasn’t specific. He said he’s told Trump when he disagreed with him and has tried to change his mind.

“That’s what a good endorser does,” Christie said.

He spoke Thursday at a nearly two-hour news conference in Trenton that was part campaign debriefing, part attempt to refocus on priorities in the state. But he opened the floor up to questions, and reporters had a lot of them.

Christie, who ended his own Republican presidential campaign last month, said he will continue helping Trump’s campaign but doesn’t have any more appearances scheduled. Christie added that his 30th wedding anniversary is next week, but he is otherwise focused on state priorities, including a budget due in June.

Seven New Jersey newspapers have called on Christie to resign. The Star-Ledger, which endorsed Christie in his 2013 re-election campaign, said in an editorial Thursday that he has since made it clear that governing the state is a “distant second priority” that comes behind his personal ambition. Six newspapers published by Gannett also called for his resignation.

Christie said he isn’t surprised by the newspapers’ stance because they haven’t supported him in the past. He said they’re merely trying to find a way to stay relevant as their readerships decline.

“The only way to do that is to set themselves on fire,” Christie said.

Christie, who spent 261 days out of the state in 2015, also chided the media for counting time he spent either in Philadelphia or New York as somehow not related to state business.

“The way you count days is absurd,” he said.

He said the Trump campaign financed his recent trips, but state taxpayers, as they always do, will be on the hook for the New Jersey State Police detail that is required to travel with him.

Defending his endorsement, Christie said he believes Trump would make the best president out of the remaining candidates and has the best chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election. He said he and Trump have been friends for 14 years.

Christie noted that despite jokes from online commenters, he wasn’t forced into giving any coerced statements on Trump’s behalf.

“This is part of the hysteria of the people who opposed my Trump endorsement,” Christie said.

Christie said he plans to finish out the nearly two years left in his term and then go into the private sector.

He did shoot down one question Thursday. When a reporter asked if he would resign if he were Trump’s pick for vice president, he replied, “Next!”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Chris Christie’s shell-shocked look stirs mockery, befuddlement

Was that really Chris Christie, the brusque, take-a-back-seat-to-no-one governor of New Jersey?

Christie’s seemingly shell-shocked gaze as he stood behind Donald Trump on Super Tuesday is generating befuddlement and mockery in his home state and beyond.

Conservatives and liberals alike have piled on.

His introductory remarks were so subdued and his appearance was so grave that many people joked on the Internet that he looked like a hostage reading a coerced statement. “Gov. Christie, blink twice if you’re in trouble!” one person tweeted.

In a move that shocked nearly everyone, especially in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, Christie endorsed Trump last week and has appeared at the billionaire businessman’s side at campaign appearances over the past few days.

But after Tuesday night’s appearance, conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg of the anti-Trump National Review imagined Christie was thinking: “My God what have I done?” Others saw the same thing in Christie’s blank stare and robotic words of introduction.

Aside from Tuesday night, Christie appears to be fully embracing his surrogate duties. The governor has introduced Trump at a number of enthusiastic rallies and has been Trump’s attack dog, sinking his teeth into Sen. Marco Rubio and vouching for Trump and his family.

Back home, the reaction has been fierce.

Republican Christine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Environmental Protection Agency administrator, told The Star-Ledger of Newark last week she would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than Trump.

“I am ashamed that Christie would endorse anyone who has employed the kind of hate mongering and racism that Trump has,” she said.

Six Gannett newspapers in New Jersey, including the Asbury Park Press, said he isn’t fit to be governor anymore. They called him a political opportunist who has neglected his duties in the Garden State, and urged him to resign.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll saw Christie’s approval ratings fall from 33 percent before he backed Trump to 27 percent since. The poll sampled 694 registered New Jersey voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

“Trump and Christie kind of do belong together, but not running our country,” said Barbara Silverstein of Gibbsboro, New Jersey. “It’s a big show, and it’s pretty pathetic.”

In the past few days, the politician with the outsized personality seemed to be shrinking in political stature even if something big — perhaps the No. 2 spot on the ballot with Trump — is his goal.

Trump was heard on a microphone telling Christie to get on a plane and go home after Christie was pressed Sunday in an ABC interview about his disagreement with Trump on his proposed ban on Muslims.

Christie refers to the candidate, who is supposedly his longtime friend, as “Mr. Trump,” while Trump refers to the governor as “Chris.”

Christie defended his endorsement this week on his regular radio call-in show.

“I’ve known him personally for 14 years and I believe he is the best person to beat Hillary Clinton,” the governor said, before clarifying that he, Christie, was the best candidate but that Trump is the best of the remaining contenders.

Christie wouldn’t discuss on the call-in show whether he was hoping for a vice presidential or Cabinet slot.

Asked about his previous criticisms of Trump, Christie said that was a natural part of having to run against him — no different, he said, from George H.W. Bush calling Ronald Reagan‘s policies “voodoo economics” before becoming his vice presidential pick.

To Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison, Christie’s seeming thousand-yard stare seemed to reflect sadness.

“It really looked like heartbreak and kind of a bitter pill that he was swallowing,” she said. “I still think that in his heart of hearts he thinks he was destined to be president of the United States.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 2.22.16 — Marco Rubio’s narrow pathway

Sorry, GOP Establishment, but Ben Carson and John Kasich aren’t shutting down their campaigns.

Those rallying around Marco Rubio Monday morning are hoping they would, two days after Donald Trump‘s decisive victory Saturday night in South Carolina forced Jeb Bush out of the race.

Rubio says it’s a three-man race between himself, Trump and Ted Cruz, but he needs to come up with victories soon if he’s going to be a serious challenger to the New York City business mogul.

Kasich has no path to the nomination, says Terry Sullivan, Rubio’s campaign manager. In a memo distributed Sunday, Sullivan wrote, “The path for winning the nomination for John Kasich looks unrealistic given the threshold requirements in most states. With the current state of the race, Kasich is currently not in contention for 81.7 percent of the delegates awarded during the week of March 1st. He hasn’t shown any ability to appeal to voters outside the very small moderate/liberal subset of the Republican primary electorate. He has fewer resources, lower name ID, and less national infrastructure than Jeb Bush, who last night determined there was no path to the nomination.”

Perhaps true, but Kasich actually may have a shot at winning a state or two (obviously Ohio, on March 15), and he presents a distinct brand of Republican leadership that is appealing to center-right voters, those who supported Bush and/or Chris Christie.

Upshot? He ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Actually, Kasich was back in his home state on Sunday to sign a bill prohibiting Ohio from contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions, blocking government funds to Planned Parenthood. According to CNN, Planned Parenthood isn’t explicitly named in the legislation, but the law will prevent more than $1 million in funding from the state health department from going to the nonprofit to fund programs such as HIV testing, health screenings and prevention of violence against women

Kasich also received the backing Sunday of billionaire financier Stanley F. Druckenmiller. So, no, Kasich isn’t departing anytime soon.

And Carson?

Despite his disappointing last place finish in the Palmetto State, the former pediatric surgeon somewhat incredulously told his supporters that “this is only the beginning.”

Say what?

Rubio can only win if the other guys get out. But they’re not. When asked about that at one point his advisers were saying that South Carolina would be the place where he would get his first victory, he said that Trump’s success is because there are so many candidates still in the race, versus the one-on-one matchup in the Democratic primary.

True. But it’s not going to change in the next few weeks, meaning Marco’s chances are very, very slim at this point. However, he is still in it right now.

In other news …

Jeb Bush’s failure this year on the campaign trail marks him as the fourth former Florida governor to strike out when attempting to become president.

• • •

If you like your politics with some controversy, then you have to admit that Alan Grayson did not disappoint at his appearance at the Tiger Bay Club in Tampa on Friday afternoon.

• • •

Tampa’s move to decriminalize possession of weed seems to have freaked out the editorial board over at The Tampa Tribune.

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Debate Takeaways: Civil court discussion gives way to brawl

Saturday’s Republican presidential debate was the perfect spot for GOP candidates to try and project legal gravitas after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

That was a fairly civil discussion.

Then came the brawls: Then it was back to Trump v. Bush for Round Two. Next up: Trump v. Cruz.

John Kasich tried to stand above the fray.

It was the smallest GOP field on the debate stage yet, after the departures of Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina. But the six surviving candidates filled the void — and then some.

COURT POLITICS

No surprise here: Most of the Republicans on the stage said it should be up to the next president (i.e. one of them, they hope) to fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death.

Bush, the son and brother of a president, was the outlier here. “The president, by the way, has every right to nominate Supreme Court justices,” Bush said. He added that President Barack Obama should take a “consensus orientation” toward that nomination, but added: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will not have a consensus pick when he submits that person to the Senate.”

The two lawyers and the only senators in the group — Rubio and Cruz — both said Obama should leave the selection to the new president.

It was a perfect forum for Cruz, who has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, to show off his legal credentials. He made it a point to mention he’d known Scalia for 20 years.

TRUMP v. BUSH

Trump was back in attack mode toward Bush, repeatedly saying “Jeb is so wrong” on national security and more, and laying into former President George W. Bush for failing to keep the nation safe from the 9/11 terror attacks.

Bush, revived by a stronger-than-expected showing in New Hampshire, showed more spark than he had in past debates.

He said he could care less about Trump’s endless insults but declared himself “sick and tired of him going after my family.”

“While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe,” Bush said. He also faulted the billionaire for having “the gall to go after my mother.”

Trump shot back: “She should be running.”

The audience got into the mix, too, with plenty of heckles and boos for Trump.

Trump dismissed that as nothing but “Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking.”

CRUZ v. RUBIO

In a lull from the Trump theatrics, Cruz and Rubio got into their own fistfight. The two senators each found reason to find weakness in the other’s record on illegal immigration.

Cruz was the initial aggressor, saying Rubio had backed a “massive amnesty plan” in the Senate for those living in the country illegally.

Rubio, trying to recover after a disastrous debate performance in New Hampshire, countered that Cruz had shown his own moments of weakness on illegal immigration, adding, “he either wasn’t the telling the truth then or he wasn’t telling the truth now.”

The heated exchange between two Cuban-American candidates quickly devolved in a spat over their Spanish language skills.

TRUMP v. CRUZ

The two candidates with victories so far — Trump in New Hampshire and Cruz in Iowa — have been engaged in an increasingly bitter duel in recent days, and they took it to a new level Saturday.

Cruz began the round by questioning Trump’s conservative credentials, saying “For most of his life, his policies have been very, very liberal.”

That set Trump off: “You are the single biggest liar,” he said, “you probably are worse than Jeb Bush.”

“This guy will say anything,” Trump continued. “He’s a nasty guy.”

There was much shouting over one another, and boos from the audience, prompting one of the debate moderators to observed, “Gentlemen, we are in danger of driving this into the dirt.”

KASICH THE OPTIMIST

The Ohio governor, hoping to build on his surprise second-place finish in New Hampshire, tried to present himself as the voice of reason and positivity.

At one lull in the slugfest, he declared: “This is just crazy. This is just nuts. Geez, oh man.”

“I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” he said.

CARSON CHIMES IN

Ben Carson, who’s been lagging in the polls and struggling to get into the conversation, was happy just to have a more prominent turn at the mic.

When he got a second question 20 minutes into the debate, it was cause for celebration.

“Two questions already, this is great!” he said.

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Mitch Perry Report for 2.11.16 – Carly and Chris bid adieu to the circus

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina have suspended their presidential campaigns.

This reporter had the chance to see the New Jersey governor (yes, that is the day job he’s pretty much blown off for months) a week ago in Keene, N.H. The fun part about that was how intimate it was: It was a small crowd (maybe too small, an indication of how he was going to perform on Tuesday), but other than a few opening remarks, the 90-minute event was all about him taking questions from the audience.

He was confident, humble, and forthright. When discussing health care, he admitted that he didn’t have a perfect solution, saying nobody did (yes, he wants to repeal the ACA).  He was funny at times, and kind. For those who wanted to see him blow up on someone, that didn’t happen, though he did give the cable networks a 10-second bite when he asked a man what the heck he was talking about (after the man went on for over two minutes without getting to his question).

I think he was a very good candidate, but he was toast before he got into the race. The BridgeGate scandal just stunk to high heaven, and even if he himself wasn’t personally involved, it happened on his watch with some of his top deputies. It reinforced the perceptions that he was a bully who went after his opponents, and it killed him.

However, depending on how this race ends up, his verbal takedown on Marco Rubio will go down in American political history. If Jeb Bush (or John Kasich) ends up somehow capturing the nomination, they’ll owe Christie big-time.

When I went to a GOP presidential cattle call in New Hampshire last April, there were two Republicans who impressed me purely with their presentation skills: Ted Cruz and Fiorina.

She really didn’t have much of a record to run on, frankly, but she was a good political athlete. Her tenure as a businesswoman was checkered, and she got mauled when running for U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer in 2010. So why was she running?

Her verbal skills kept her in the game for awhile. And frankly, she got screwed by ABC last week when she wasn’t allowed into the Saint Anselm College debate in Manchester despite receiving more votes than Bush and Kasich in Iowa. That made no sense, and showed a level of disrespect to her campaign.

They’re both gone. Who’s taking odds on when Ben Carson departs?

In other news …

NARAL pro-choice America is blasting Marco Rubio for his stance on not believing abortion for women, even in the case of rape or incest.

• • •

Rubio says he’s moving on to South Carolina, in the wake of his lousy week in New Hampshire.

• • •

You better believe the Rubio camp is taking seriously the charges that he hasn’t accomplished enough to make him qualified to become the next president. Wednesday his campaign team added this post to their website.

• • •

A proposal to remove Florida’s statue of a Confederate general in the U.S. Capitol advanced in a state House committee Wednesday.

• • •

Jeb Bush wasted no time going after John Kasich, fresh off the Ohio governor’s second-place finish in New Hampshire.

• • •

Hillsborough County PTC head Kyle Cockream says he wants the Legislature to reconsider a proposal in the House that would not mandate that Uber and Lyft drivers have Level 2 background checks, which require getting fingerprinted.

• • •

Pam Bondi is psyched that the U.S. Supreme Court has put a checkdown on President Barack Obama‘s Clean Power Plan.

• • •

And Kevin Beckner had an OK month of fundraising for his race for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts. Democratic incumbent Pat Frank? Not so much.

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Jumbled GOP field hopes for survival in South Carolina

Hoping for survival in the South, a muddled field of Republican presidential contenders descended Wednesday on South Carolina, no closer to clarity about who can stand between Donald Trump and their party’s nomination.

Not me, Carly Fiorina announced, dropping out of the campaign. A Chris Christie spokeswoman said his race was over, too. But a sizeable field remained.

To the dismay of party leaders, all signs point to a drawn-out battle for delegates following Trump’s resounding victory in New Hampshire. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, under immense pressure to prove himself after a devastating fifth-place finish, was looking for a fight that could last for months or even spill into the first contested GOP national convention since 1976.

“We very easily could be looking at May — or the convention,” Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan told The Associated Press.

If Trump had Republicans on edge, Democrats were feeling no less queasy.

Rejected in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton sought redemption in Nevada, where a more diverse group of voters awaited her and Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, a Vermont senator and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, raised $5 million-plus in less than a day after his New Hampshire triumph. The contributions came mostly in small-dollar amounts, his campaign said, illustrating the resources he’ll have to fight Clinton to a bitter end.

Both Clinton and Sanders — the first Jew to win a presidential primary — worked to undercut each other among African-Americans and Hispanics with less than two weeks until the Democratic contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders met for breakfast in Harlem with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist. Clinton, meanwhile, announced plans to campaign with the mother of Sandra Bland, whose death while in police custody became a symbol of racial tensions. And Clinton’s campaign deployed South Carolina state Rep. Todd Rutherford to vouch for her support for minorities.

“Secretary Clinton has been involved in South Carolina for the last 40 years,” Rutherford said. “Bernie Sanders has talked about these issues for the last 40 days.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand and victor in the leadoff Iowa caucuses, returned to the center of the fracas after largely sitting out New Hampshire. He drew contrasts with Trump as he told a crowd of 500 in Myrtle Beach that Texans and South Carolinians are more alike than not.

“We love God, we’re gun owners, military veterans and we’re fed up with what’s happening in Washington,” Cruz said.

Almost all the Republicans have spent months building complex campaigns and blanketing airwaves in South Carolina, which heralds the start of the GOP campaign’s foray into the South. After that primary on Feb. 20, seven Southern states including Georgia and Virginia will anchor the Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, with oodles of delegates at stake.

The state, with its array of conservative GOP voters, will test Trump and the others in new ways. Having courted social conservatives in Iowa and moderates in New Hampshire, the candidates face an electorate infused with evangelical, pro-business and military-minded flavors.

Rubio’s campaign has looked forward to the state. Yet his path grew far trickier after a fifth-place New Hampshire letdown, which terminated talk of Republican leaders quickly uniting behind him as the strongest alternative to “outsiders” Trump and Cruz.

His campaign’s suggestion that the race could veer a contested convention seemed to signal to mainstream Republicans that the party would be ill-served by allowing the Trump phenomenon to last much longer. GOP officials have already had early discussions about such a July scenario, which could be triggered if no candidate secures a majority of delegates by convention time.

For Gov. John Kasich, whose second-place showing was New Hampshire’s primary stunner, the task was to convert newfound interest into support in a state ideologically distant from his native Ohio. With a minimal South Carolina operation compared to his rivals, Kasich must work quickly.

Seeking votes at a local business in Charleston, Kasich worked to burnish his reputation as a results-oriented leader.

“If you don’t go to the gym, you get flabby,” Kasich said. “And if the country doesn’t solve its problems, it gets flabby.”

Heading into the final two-week sprint, Trump was leading in South Carolina among all demographic groups, an NBC/Marist/Wall Street Journal poll showed, with Cruz and Rubio a distant second and third. Already, more than $32 million has been spent on TV ads here, according to CMAG/Kantar Media data — much of it by Right to Rise, the PAC backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Though he placed fourth on Tuesday, Bush was hoping that Rubio’s slump would forestall his own ouster from the race. After a rally in Bluffton, he said voters in New Hampshire “pushed the pause button” on anointing any candidate — and turned to his brother, George W. Bush, for help. His campaign debuted a new ad featuring the former president, who plans to campaign in the Palmetto State.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ends 2016 White House bid

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican nomination for president on Wednesday, a day after his disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire’s primary.

Campaign spokeswoman Samantha Smith said Christie shared his decision with staff at his campaign headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, late Wednesday afternoon, and was calling donors and other supporters.

Christie on Tuesday night told supporters he was heading home to New Jersey to “take a deep breath,” await the final tally of results from New Hampshire and decide what to do next. He said he was leaving New Hampshire “without an ounce of regret,” but spoke of his campaign in the past tense at one point and canceled a Wednesday event in next-to-vote South Carolina.

Christie dropped out of the race the same day that Carly Fiorina announced on social media that she, too, was calling it quits. The former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard won just 4 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Christie had 7 percent.

Christie had been banking on a strong finish in New Hampshire and spent more than 70 days campaigning in the state, holding well-received town halls and meet-and-greets.

But Tuesday’s result appeared to be the final blow for a candidate whose campaign saw glimmers of hope at times, but had trouble from the get-go raising money and building support in a crowded Republican field dominated by another brash East Coaster, businessman Donald Trump.

While Trump posed a challenge to the entire Republican field, his dominance seemed especially damaging to Christie, who had branded himself the “telling it like it is” candidate.

When he returns home to finish his second term as governor, Christie will face a slew of unsolved problems and rock-bottom approval ratings from residents who, polls show, feel he neglected New Jersey to pursue his national ambitions.

Christie racked up a long list of notable endorsements from state legislative leaders in New Hampshire. At the end of 2015, he appeared to be breaking into the top tier after a video of him discussing a friend’s struggle with drug addiction went viral.

The terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, in particular, played to Christie’s advantage, allowing him to talk about his previous job as a U.S. attorney and play up his law-and-order credentials. And a commanding performance during the last GOP debate before the New Hampshire primary earned him strong reviews.

But with a field filled with numerous other options, including current and former governors and senators, Christie never consolidated support, despite being praised by both fans and rivals as one of the Republican Party’s best communicators.

Christie may have missed a better chance at the White House four year ago, when some of his party’s most powerful statesmen and donors begged him to run in 2012. But Christie declined, saying that he didn’t feel like he was ready.

Christie’s aggressive political team worked to rack up endorsements and wide victory margins in his re-election bid for governor as a springboard for 2016. At the same time, his aides took their game of doling out political favors and punishments too far, leading to one of the most dumbfounding political scandals in recent memory. Aides purposely created traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee to punish the mayor, who chose not to endorse Christie’s re-election.

While Christie first laughed off the suggestion that his team had anything to do with the plot, the denials quickly unraveled following the release of emails, including one from a top aide that read, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Three people have been indicted in the scheme, including a former high school classmate of the governor who has pleaded guilty and is working with federal prosecutors.

Other Republicans who have left the race include South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Carly Fiorina suspends her presidential campaign

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has suspended her presidential campaign, a day after she finished seventh in the GOP presidential pack in New Hampshire, getting a little over 4 percent of the vote.

“This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said in a statement released at 3 p.m. eastern time. “Election after election, the same empty promises are made, and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”

Fiorina also finished seventh in last week’s Iowa caucuses and has struggled in the polls since entering the contest last year.

She failed to qualify for last week’s Fox News debate in New Hampshire despite the fact that she received more votes than John Kasich and Chris Christie in Iowa. The exclusion caused her to call on the Republican National Committee to fix its “broken” debate process.

Her biggest moment in the campaign happened after her appearance in the first “kiddie’s table” debate last August, where her impressive debate performance compelled CNN to change its criteria for who would get into its main Sept. 16 debate at the Reagan Library in Southern California.

She never polled much higher than around 5 percent.

Fiorina may not be the only candidate to depart the race after New Hampshire. Multiple news reports have surfaced saying that New Jersey Governor Christie will also suspend his presidential campaign later Wednesday.

Here’s Fiorina’s statement.

This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish.  We must fix our festering problems by holding our bloated, inept government bureaucracy accountable.  Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.

To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made.  Choose leadership.

As I have said to the many wonderful Americans I have met throughout this campaign, a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others.  I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.

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Marco Rubio promises supporters he’ll do better as the campaign moves to South Carolina

Marco Rubio vows that he will never allow what happened to him in last Saturday night’s GOP debate to happen to him again.

“I want you to understand something,” he told the crowd of disappointed supporters at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire on Tuesday night. “Our disappointment tonight is not on you; it’s on me. It is on me. I did not do well on Saturday night — listen to this: that will never happen again. That will never happen again.”

What Rubio’s vowing will never happen again is that he will falter in this campaign as he did under a verbal assault he received at the hands of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during last Saturday night’s debate in Manchester.

“Let me tell you why it will never happen again,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about this campaign, it is about this election. It’s about what’s at stake in this election.”

Christie blasted Rubio for his lack of experience during the debate, and Rubio failed to respond, instead repeatedly reciting his criticisms about Barack Obama.

In the days after the debate, he tripled down on those comments, saying he didn’t understand why the media was making such a big issue about it and continued the anti-Obama mantra.

He dropped the facade on Tuesday night, however, after he finished a disappointing fifth in the race, behind not only Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but John Kasich and Jeb Bush as well.

He did, however, best Christie, who appears now to be considering dropping out of the race.

Rubio’s nationally televised gaffe may have impacted the race, as 65 percent of GOP voters said they were influenced by Saturday night’s debate. Also, ABC News found nearly half of Republican primary voters saying they’d made their final decision in just the last few days. Only 20 percent of Democratic voters reported being late deciders.

The question is now – is Rubio’s campaign fatally wounded?

That remains to be seen. You can watch Rubio’s concession speech here.

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