Chris Christie Archives - Page 6 of 22 - SaintPetersBlog

Poll contends Jeb Bush in 2nd place in New Hampshire

Jeb Bush could be staging a comeback, according to a new poll conducted by the Emerson College Polling Society.

The survey found that, among likely Republican primary goers, Bush is in second place, with 18 percent. Donald Trump holds on to his top spot with 35 percent support; while John Kasich is in third with 14 percent.

Marco Rubio is at 9 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 8 percent. Chris Christie is at 5 percent, according to the poll.

The Emerson College survey likely comes as welcome news to supporters. The former Florida governor has spent a considerable amount of time and money in the Granite State, but has made little headway in other polls.

According to RealClearPolitics averages of New Hampshire polls, Bush is in fifth place with 8 percent, trailing Rubio and Kasich.

The Emerson College Polling Society poll was conducted from Monday and Tuesday. The telephone poll sampled 373 likely Republican primary voters. The poll has a margin of error of 5 percent.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, 52 percent to 44 percent. The poll surveyed 350 likely Democratic primary voters and has a margin of error of 5.2 percent.

Marco Rubio’s Iowa crisscross approach bends caucus campaign norm

Marco Rubio is all over the map in Iowa. Quite literally.

Having spent little time in the state’s rural Christian conservative northwest, the Republican presidential candidate dropped in to Sioux County for the first time last week, then bounced across the state two days later to speak with some of Iowa’s more fiscally conservative voters in the east.

“I’m going to trust that he knows what he’s doing,” state Rep. John Wills, who supports Rubio, said after his campaign stop at the Christian Dordt College in GOP-rich Sioux Center. “I hope he gets the chance to get up here again. Northwest Iowa is where you win.”

Rubio began an uninterrupted nine-day run Saturday ahead of Iowa’s lead-off caucuses next Monday. His itinerary includes college towns, larger cities and rural outposts.

After months of promising that his campaign was on the verge of ramping up in early-voting states, Rubio appears to be following through in the Iowa homestretch.

He dismisses the notion that he’s changing in the 11th hour to play catch-up with rival Ted Cruz, who has dedicated significant time and resources toward campaigning across the state. Rubio has focused more on Des Moines and the state’s other urban areas.

Rather, “it’s an indication that the caucuses are eight days away,” Rubio said Saturday during a campaign stop in Indianola.

In the chess game of early voting, Rubio needs to finish in Iowa ahead of mainstream GOP rivals such as  former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. If he does, undecided voters in the upcoming contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina could take notice.

Despite the scattershot appearance of Rubio’s schedule, a pattern of building toward caucus day was beginning to take shape over the weekend as he drew large, diverse and engaged crowds, picked up endorsements from some of Iowa’s larger newspapers and appeared Monday with the state’s freshman U.S. senator, Republican Joni Ernst.

“He knows what it is to keep our country safe from the threats that are out there,” Ernst, an Iraq War veteran, said of her 44-year-old Senate colleague. She called him “near and dear to my heart.”

Ernst’s glowing introduction echoed formal endorsements of younger, Republicans elected to Congress in the past decade. Rubio described as “young, strong conservative leaders,” those who have campaigned with him, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, and South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem.

“I feel good where that is going to lead,” Rubio said of his campaign on Monday. “As soon as we’re done here, we’re going to head to New Hampshire and do as well as we can there.”

Until now, some Iowa GOP officials — among them, people who are backing Rubio or are remaining neutral — have been perplexed by his Iowa approach.

The caucuses are far different from primary elections, and require successful campaigns to identify individual supporters, stay in touch and communicate with them about how they can be involved and ultimately attend their local precinct meetings.

“The critique or allegation has been that (Rubio’s campaign is) not building an organization,” said John Stineman, an Iowa Republican consultant who is not affiliated with any campaign.

“He’s not spent as much time in western or northwest Iowa as a traditional Iowa campaign,” said Gwen Ecklund, Crawford County GOP chairwoman.

Instead, Rubio has frequently visited Sioux City, the metro hub of northwest Iowa, but a far cry from the socially conservative counties that surround it where the more clearly evangelical candidate Rick Santorum won in the 2012 caucuses.

Cruz, who has led in some recent Iowa GOP polls, has visited them all, evidenced by red signs, reading “Choose Cruz” that mark the snowy banks along the two-lane farm roads of Sioux County.

Still, Rubio drew 600 to his event at the Dordt College union on a recent, bitterly cold night. He had drawn a smaller audience to the Christian college two weeks earlier, when students were away for winter break.

Two days after his Sioux County event, Rubio was 370 miles east, speaking to about 500 on a Monday night in Bettendorf, part of the more moderate Quad Cities metro area, where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won during the 2012 caucuses.

In the days ahead, Rubio has an equally demanding schedule, beginning Monday in the Des Moines area with little letup, except for Thursday’s GOP debate in that city.

Stineman said activities behind the scenes could fill any gaps.

Much of Rubio’s voter identification has been digital — through social media and email.

“It’s happening in a way we’re not used to,” said former state GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, who is not working for a campaign.

Rubio is also getting organizational help from an unconventional source.

Conservative Solutions, the super PAC that supports Rubio, is calling potential Rubio supporters, collecting information about them and directing them to the Iowa Republican Party’s website to find their caucus locations.

Stineman said he had received such calls and follow-up information. While a spokesman for the group said it was conducting some organizational functions aimed at benefiting Rubio in the caucuses, he declined to elaborate.

It’s a new role for these groups, which can, unlike federally regulated campaigns, take unlimited contributions but have until now largely used their money on advertisements.

“Rubio’s team seems to be operating off of a new Iowa Caucus playbook,” Strawn said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Fox News poll: Donald Trump pulls ahead in Iowa, maintains top spot in New Hampshire

Donald Trump is gaining ground in Iowa, a new Fox News poll found.

With one week before the Iowa caucuses, Trump leads Ted Cruz, 34 percent to 23 percent.

The most recent poll showed Marco Rubio was in third at 12 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 7 percent. Rand Paul, the poll found, was polling at 6 percent in Iowa.

The poll found 20 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers said they would refuse to vote for Trump if he was the Republican nominee; 14 percent said they would refuse to vote for Jeb Bush if he was the nominee.

The Fox News poll was conducted Jan. 18 through Jan. 21. The results show a shift in opinions from earlier Fox News surveys, which found Cruz was leading the pack in Iowa.

The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1

Trump still dominates in New Hampshire, found a Fox News poll conducted during the same time period. That survey shows Trump leads Cruz, 31 percent to 14 percent. Rubio is in third at 13 percent, John Kasich follows at 9 percent. Bush and Chris Christie are tied at 7 percent.

The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9.

Marco Rubio reveals his backup plan on The Tonight Show

Marco Rubio has a backup plan if his presidential hopes don’t pan out, and it doesn’t include life in government.

The Florida Republican told late night host Jimmy Fallon he wasn’t considering the vice president spot if he fails to win the Republican nomination. Instead, he has his sights set on another powerful post — the NFL commissioner.

“I want to be like commissioner of the NFL, which is more powerful than the president sometime,” he told Fallon during an appearance on The Tonight Show on Thursday night. “You have a lot of power in that job. You can suspend people.”

Rubio used the appearance to make a pitch for he should be president.

“This country has changed the history of my family. Their whole life they kind of struggled, they worked hard. They were able to achieve what I call the American Dream,” he said. “I just want this to remain that kind of country. I want it to remain a place where people are able to do for their kids what my parents were able to do for me.”

Rubio brushed off questions from Fallon about whether it was weird to run against Jeb Bush, saying they “just decided to run for president at the same time.”

“I like Jeb very much,” said Rubio. “He’s my friend. He’ll always be my friend.”

The appearance marked Rubio’s first on The Tonight Show, which has become a regular stopover for presidential hopefuls.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump recently appeared on the show; Carly Fiorina was on in September, and Chris Christie was on in August. Bush visited in June, using the opportunity to “Slow Jam the News” of his decision to run for president.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have appeared on the show.

As for his backup plan, Rubio might have some stiff competition for NFL commissioner. In 2002, Condoleezza Rice told The New York Times that she wanted to be the commissioner of the NFL.

Marco Rubio jabs Republican leaders: Anger not enough

In a swipe at his party’s front-runners, Republican White House hopeful Marco Rubio charged Saturday that anger alone isn’t enough to qualify someone to be president.

“We also have to have someone for president who knows exactly what they’re going to do when they get there,” the Florida senator said, as he courted Iowa voters ahead of the state’s Feb. 1 caucuses.

Rubio called out leading candidates, real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, by name during a town hall-style meeting in Johnston, Iowa, the first of four scheduled campaign appearances Saturday. Trump and Cruz are surging in the polls, in part, by successfully tapping into conservative anger about the direction of the country.

In a debate this week, Trump declared that he “gladly” accepted “the mantle of anger.”

“Obviously, I share the frustration that others have about the future of our country and where it’s headed. But I’m going to detail exactly what we’re going to do about it,” Rubio said. “Donald hasn’t done that, whether it’s on national security or on the other issues. I think that’s a huge difference.”

At a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Rubio said Trump’s mantra, “We’re gonna make America great,” shouldn’t be enough to win voters’ support.

“How?” Rubio asked. “You deserve to know that.”

Rubio also condemned Senate colleague Cruz for supporting federal budgets that would decrease defense spending and for proposing a “European-style” value-added tax. Cruz’s tax plan, in particular, would “really hurt seniors,” Rubio said.

And repeating criticism he outlined in Thursday’s debate, Rubio likened New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s policies to those of President Barack Obama. The Florida senator accused Christie of supporting Common Core education standards, gun control and the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.

“I would never support someone like that to the Supreme Court,” Rubio charged.

Christie has disputed the assertion that he backed Sotomayor, but in 2009 Christie said, “I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination.”

Rubio promised to avoid personal attacks in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, but would continue to outline policy differences between his Republican rivals.

“These are policy differences,” he said. “We’re all going to be on the same team soon enough.”

Rubio has been criticized for not spending as much time on the ground in early voting states as some of his Republican competitors. He chartered a private plane to make four stops on Saturday and another five on Monday.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 1.15.16 — Has the GOP contest wilted down to 2-and-a-half men?

Happy Friday, y’all.

As we go into the NFL’s best weekend (and one of the greatest in all of professional sports) and reflect on the Oscar nominations (DiCaprio, Brie Larson and Stallone are locks, by the way, and though she won’t win, I’m all in for Alicia Vikander for Supporting Actress), Friday’s national story is Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate.

It was dominated by the clash between front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, with Marco Rubio again putting in impressive performances, as far as these things go.

Those of us in the media continue to perpetuate the idea that Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich could impress New Hampshire, and become the more establishment candidate to go against the Trump-Cruz front.

Maybe so, and I’m not ready to dismiss any of the above until after New Hampshire, but my gosh, the GOP base seems (based on all polls) to be interested in choosing either Trump or Cruz to be their standard-bearer.

It was entertaining to see the two make each other look bad in the first half-hour of the contest. Cruz definitely got the best of Trump when the issue of Cruz’s birth in Canada, showing off his debate preparation.

“Back in September, my friend Donald said he had his lawyer look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there,” Cruz said. “There was nothing to this ‘birther’ issue. Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have.” The crowd whistled and cheered.

“And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa,” he said. “But the facts and the law here are really quite clear.”

Points to the Texas senator. Trump looked befuddled at that moment.

But Trump trumped Cruz on the whole issue of “New York values,” which as Cruz was (embarrassingly forced to explain), was code for a certain breed of liberalism, meant undoubtedly to hurt Trump with the Christian conservative crowd.

Bashing NYC, however, doesn’t carry the same punch in a Republican debate that it did pre-Sept. 11, 2001. It was a softball for Trump, who hit it out of the park defending NYC.

“You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down,” Trump said. “I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup — probably in the history of doing this — and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it. And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death, nobody understood it,” Trump, in an uncharacteristically humane moment, said. “And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”

Cruz ended up applauding the statement! Though at first it felt a bit exploitive (like Hillary Clinton‘s statement during the second Democratic debate when she was attacked for her alliance with Wall Street firms and turned it around to be about defending the city after 9/11), the whole line of attack was pretty damned dumb of Cruz.

Rubio broke up the back and forth between the two hilariously by declaring that it wasn’t an episode of “Court TV,” and he had other big moments bringing down Cruz and Christie. But Rubio always does well in the debates, there’s not much question about that.

The question I posed months ago was whether Rubio can translate his performances into rising poll numbers, and the answer is, “not yet.”

I also tweeted last night though the candidates couldn’t go far enough in blasting President Barack Obama for his stance on gun control, good luck with having such an absolute attitude in the debates in the fall against the Democratic nominee. Too many polls show the public wants some sensible reforms (like universal background checks), and en masse those candidates seemed to put themselves out of the mainstream in their zealousness to prove their Second Amendment bona fides.

There is one more debate before the Iowa caucuses, in 13 days. The cake appears to be baked in the Hawkeye State in it being a two-man battle, but the interest in this race is only increasing as we finally get down to the public voting for real, in not in a public opinion survey.

In other news …

Everyone loves Uber, right? Well, no, the taxi cab industry hasn’t, but it’s great for workers. Well, apparently not, going by what some drivers – who say they have loved working for the company – now say about their recent cut in pay.

• • •

In the CD 11 race to replace Republican Rich Nugent, his former chief-of-staff, Justin Grabelle, has the quick lead in terms of fundraising prowess.

• • •

A new study on the death penalty in Florida shows (surprise!) that the administration of the ultimate state sanction disproportionately affects blacks and Latinos and according to where you live in the state.

• • •

And Jeff Brandes‘ bill that reform how the proportion of suspended driver’s licenses in the Sunshine State advanced in a state Senate Committee Thursday.

At debate, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz assert their standing atop Republican field

The rivalry between the Republican Party’s two leading candidates for president intensified in Thursday’s debate, which featured the most rollicking action to date.

Yet rising tensions between billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz left little space for any of the other candidates to make an impression.

With less than three weeks until Iowa’s leadoff caucuses, the renewed focus on the two candidates leading most preference polls suggests the overall shape of the 2016 contest may be solidifying — much to the dismay of Republican officials who fear neither Trump nor Cruz is electable in a general election.

Trump and Cruz starred in Thursday’s primetime event. And Trump, in particular, may have had his finest debate performance.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had strong moments, but didn’t have the breakout needed to begin coalescing mainstream Republicans behind their candidacies.

Just one debate remains before Iowa’s Feb. 1 caucuses. But the likelihood of a major shakeup in the race becomes less and less as days pass.

Here are some other key takeaways from the Thursday night debate.



Cruz and Trump went toe-to-toe several times, including Trump’s questioning of whether Cruz, born in Canada to a U.S. citizen, is eligible to serve as president.

Yet no exchange encapsulated the night better than their clash over “New York values.”

“Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal … focused around money and the media,” Cruz charged. And in a nod to Trump’s home in midtown Manhattan, Cruz said: “I can frame it another way: Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.”

Just as Cruz was ready to dismiss concerns about his Canadian birth, Trump was ready to defend New York.

The real-estate mogul said he found that kind of talk “insulting.” And he seemed to show his softer side while reflecting on how New Yorkers came together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “Everybody in the world watched, and everyone in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers,” he said. “That was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”

It was hard to imagine a stronger response from Trump, who puts a lot less time into debate preparations than his opponents. He seemed to handily win that exchange with Cruz, a former college debate champion.


Pressed on whether he regretted his call to bar Muslims from entering the U.S., Trump had a one-word answer: “No.” And when asked whether they supported Trump’s proposal, the candidates sharing the stage with him largely demurred, talking instead about immigration and security.

All except Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor has made taking on Trump the cornerstone of his struggling campaign, and he slammed the proposal as one that would make it impossible for the U.S. to build the necessary bridges with Arab nations to defeat the Islamic State.

“All Muslims? Seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?” Bush said. “What we need to do is destroy ISIS. The other Arab countries have a role to play in this. Sending that signal makes it impossible for us to be serious about taking out ISIS and restoring democracy in Syria.”

Reminded that he once called Trump and his proposal unhinged, Bush replied: “Yeah, they are unhinged.”


With Trump and Cruz surging in many polls, the candidates seeking the support of more traditional Republican Party voters desperately hoped to break out.

None did. But not for lack of trying.

Bush tried to score points by going after Trump. Rubio went after Christie. Kasich called for unity. And Christie mixed it up with Cruz and Rubio.

The Christie-Rubio dynamic stood out at times, particularly when Rubio refused to condemn an ad from a super PAC supporting him that portrays Christie as similar to President Barack Obama. Rubio claimed that Christie “endorsed many of the ideas” that the president supports.

Christie strongly disagreed — and he said that while two years ago Rubio called him a “conservative reformer,” now he is misrepresenting his record. “When you’re a senator what you get to do is talk and talk and talk and no one can keep up to see if what you’re saying is accurate or not,” Christie said.


The former secretary of state was mentioned often by all of the candidates, and the attacks were often in the form of one-liners.

“She’s under investigation with the FBI right now,” Bush said, adding that the country should avoid a situation with a president who “might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse.”

Rubio was much more serious when he said Clinton is “disqualified from being president of the United States” because she “mishandled” intelligence, a reference to her use of a personal email account and server rather than a government account while at the State Department. He also accused her of telling “lies” to the families of victims in the attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi.

Separately, Christie warned, “If you’re worried about world being on fire, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama’s leadership.”

There was little love for Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders. He may be surging in some preference polls, but the Republican candidates remained focused on facing off against Clinton this fall.

“We’re going to win every state, if Bernie Sanders is the nominee,” Kasich said, adding, “I know Bernie, and I can promise you he’s not going to be president of the United States.”

Mitch Perry Report for 1.14.16 — And the winner is?


Shortly after 8:30 a.m., the Oscar nominations will be announced from Hollywood, and yes, I actually give a fig.

As an inveterate moviegoer, I still get excited about what the Establishment thinks about the product it puts out every year. Interestingly, while the Oscars are still among the most viewed television broadcasts globally every year, they always seem to drop in the ratings most years.

This year, Chris Rock is hosting, but what I’ll be interested to see today is if the Star Wars film gets a Best Film nomination.

Granted, I haven’t seen the new J.J. Abrams version, and may not. The point is, the reason the Academy expanded the number of Best Movie nominations from five to 10 some years ago was to include more films that people actually see, like Star Wars, which of course, has blown through all box-office records. The idea being, people can watch the show because they’ve seen at least one movie!

(Update — Star Wars did not get a Best Movie nomination. View the complete list here-

Now on to tonight in North Charleston, South Carolina, for the latest GOP presidential debate.

You’ve noticed by now, I hope, that despite all the pregame hype, the debates haven’t really affected the race much. OK, to a certain extent, Ted Cruz has been helped, I’d admit.

But what about Marco Rubio? No candidate has received better reviews for his debate performances, and the last time I looked, the Florida junior Senator is hoping to finish third in Iowa.

Donald Trump has actually been relatively low-key in more recent debates, which works for him. Since there really doesn’t seem to be anything that he says that ever backfires on him anyway, Trump continues to “win” these debates according to pundits because, well, I’m not sure why, but that’s what the folks on the telly tell me.

I actually dig watching Chris Christie in these encounters. But again, where’s he looking in the polls?

Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have also received high marks, and where are they? Graham is back to his regular job as a Senator, while Fiorina has been relegated to the 6 p.m. Happy Hour debate tonight.

One prediction: You’ll hear a lot about the recent incident with Iran and the U.S. sailors that they kidnapped for a day.

I’m already looking forward to the next debate in two weeks, where we’ll get the return of Fox News Megyn Kelly asking questions of Trump and the rest of the field.

In other news …

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz‘ bill that would regulate Uber and Lyft passed a committee in the House yesterday, and now goes to the floor for a final vote. Yet there’s no Senate companion bill that would get it to Rick Scott’s desk.

Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity has come out in support of Gaetz’ ride-sharing bill. 

Speaking of that bill, Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission Chair Victor Crist says that there better be a bill out of Tallahassee this session, or he threatens … well, he’s threatening something “radical” if the Legislature fails to act.

Although some conservatives are bashing Jeb Bush and Right to Rise for the ad that depicts Marco Rubio and his “flip-flopping'” boots as somehow a sad denouement of his campaign, I think it’s a classic. The former Florida Governor went on Morning Joe yesterday to defend it, and added a few shots at his supposed friend.

Seminole-based state House Republican Larry Ahern thinks the Legislature should send a statement to Washington telling them to declare war on ISIS, ISLE, al-Qaida, and any other group espousing Islamic radicalism.

Members of the Florida Legislature like Richard Corcoran want to put term limits on judges, something only one other state in the union does (New Mexico). An activist group yesterday condemned the proposal.

And can’t get enough of omnipresent political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann? Then hope you’ve got Showtime, to see the dynamic duo do their thing on pay cable beginning this weekend.

Chris Christie warns voters: Don’t elect a first-term senator

Chris Christie is pressing people in New Hampshire to avoid voting for a first-time senator in the coming presidential primary as he holds out Barack Obama as an example of what can happen when they do.

“The U.S. Senate is like school,” he told a packed firehouse Wednesday. “They tell you where to go, what time to show up, what kind of questions you’re going to get.” The New Jersey governor said, “That’s not the way it works when you’re a governor, I can tell you. The issues come at you from every direction at all hours of the day and the night.”

Christie’s remarks were a swipe Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two rising contenders for the GOP nomination. He’s competing in particular with Rubio in New Hampshire, the state where Christie has pinned his presidential hopes. Christie’s pitch centers on his executive experience as governor and as a former U.S. attorney.

 He said voters should have learned a lesson from electing Obama, who was in his first term in the Senate when he ran in 2008 and won the presidency.

“When the American people elected (Obama), they knew he had never run anything bigger than a 30-person Senate staff,” Christie said. “We as a country put him in charge of the largest, most complex government the world has ever known, and we wonder why things aren’t working the right way.”

Christie has seen his stock rise in New Hampshire as people search for an alternative to Donald Trump, who continues to dominate preference polls in the first primary state, which votes Feb. 9.

Christie casts himself as a tested governor who can take on threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations and often questions whether the rest of the candidates possess the experience to make tough decisions.

He’ll join six other candidates, Rubio and Cruz among them, on stage Thursday night for the next Republican primary debate. But he told voters to be thinking farther ahead, to when the Republican nominee is on stage debating Hillary Clinton, who he presumes will win the Democratic nomination. If an untested candidate makes it to that stage, Christie said, Clinton will “eat you alive.”

“She will pat some people on the head and cut their hearts out,” he said. “Let me guarantee you one thing: She won’t do that to a guy from New Jersey.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Inside the New Hampshire pitch to those who don’t want Donald Trump

For all the passionate support Donald Trump has amassed in New Hampshire, many Republicans and independent voters are just as passionate about not voting for Donald Trump.

They are an enticing target for the pack of Republicans off the front-runner’s pace, who seek to turn a second-place finish in the nation’s first primary — or maybe even an upset win — into validation they’re the candidate best able to challenge the brash real estate billionaire in South Carolina and beyond.

Those voters are grappling with the weight of the world, as they take in town halls with Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, and attend rallies with Marco Rubio and meet and greets with John Kasich.

“I only have, like, six weeks to make up my mind, and this is making me sick,” said Linda Fournier of Salem, who’s been keeping a close eye on the contest for nearly a year. “I actually go to bed at night worrying about this. This is just one vote, but it’s so important to me.”

Those four candidates are generally viewed as able to win over a GOP establishment worried about the prospect of Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as their party’s nominee. They combine for about 45 percent of support in recent preference polls — enough to top Trump as one bloc, but fall far short split among them.

New evidence of the intensity among the four is manifesting itself in the form of escalating attacks in ads, in interviews and at their events. The men all share similar ideas about policy and politics, but their pitches to voters differ as they seek to come out on top.

What they all agree on: It’s in New Hampshire where their White House aspirations may find life — or come to an end.

“You are among the most powerful people in the world right now,” Christie told voters at a recent town hall with the Manchester Rotary Club. “You and you alone will decide who the other 48 states have to pick from to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.”

• • •

For Christie, the New Jersey governor who thrives on one-on-one interaction, the setting of choice has been town halls. Christie seeks to present himself as a relatable everyman, peppering the events with life stories and personal anecdotes, weaving between well-tested tear-jerkers and lines that leave participants laughing out loud.

The free-wheeling events often stretch on for two hours or more, and attendees routinely walk away impressed. “He’s very down-to-earth. He cares,” said Anne Kagen, a nursing assistant from Manchester. “I like the way that he’s outspoken and right on point,” said George Castonguay, a fuel service technician from Manchester.

Since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Christie has increasingly put the focus on his record as a U.S. attorney, the job he held before he was governor. He calls himself a battle-tested crime fighter who has the fire to appeal to Trump voters who are angry about the country’s direction, but comes with the executive governing experience the former reality TV star lacks.

He’s also tried to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton, making the case that he is the most prepared to take on the Democratic front-runner in the general election.

“The American people, and this is getting more acute to me every day, understand that they need somebody from outside of Washington D.C., and somebody who is going to be strong and tough and honest,” Christie recently said. “I just don’t think Hillary Clinton fills any of those four.”

• • •

Bush, the former Florida governor, has spent much of the race trying to convince voters that he’s the candidate they need, even though he may not be the one who excites them most.

In mid-December, Bush moved away from his on-and-off, sometimes indirect jabs at Trump. In its place came an uninhibited attack on the national GOP front-runner, who Bush calls the “chaos candidate” as he mocks his debate answers and policy proposals. “These are serious times. We need a serious leader,” Bush told voters recently in Littleton, offering himself as just such a leader.

With his penchant for promoting what he calls “disruptive” policy reform, Bush presents his eight years as governor of Florida as the centerpiece of his candidacy. He touts Florida as “a diverse, vibrant” place, and a perennial swing state worth a whopping 29 electoral votes. He says often, “I know how to do this, because I was governor.”

The self-described policy nerd also thrives during hour-long question-and-answer sessions that cap his New Hampshire campaign stops.

In Dover last week Tuesday, Bush stood with arms crossed and head cocked staring at John Polychronis as the Dover Republican asked whether the spike in heroin abuse in the state meant American youth had lost faith in government.

Bush replied that he does not possess answers to all of the nation’s ills, but pledged to work hard to find the answers if elected. “The way you restore confidence is by rolling up your sleeves and fixing things,” Bush said.

“I like Marco Rubio because he’s moderate,” said Nancy Novelline-Clayburgh, a Republican voter from Portsmouth. “But Jeb Bush did a fantastic job as governor. And I think we’re better off electing a governor.”

• • •

Florida Senator Rubio centers his campaign pitch on his personal biography, attempting to craft an aspirational message that appeals to voters across a broad spectrum of the Republican Party.

Rubio weaves together his past, as the son of Cuban immigrants who never led a rich lifestyle, with his present, particularly, his role as a young father seeking to give his children a brighter future.

And while Rubio is fighting to be the mainstream alternative to Trump, he’s actively trying to distance himself from the “establishment” label. He often talks about his successful run for U.S. Senate in 2010, when he ran in a GOP primary against the state’s sitting governor.

“When I decided to run for president, many of the same people in the establishment said, ‘You can’t run, it’s not your turn, you need to wait,’ and my answer’s, ‘Wait for what?'” Rubio says often.

Rubio spent considerably less time in New Hampshire in the summer and fall than did Christie, Kasich and Bush, a fact that voters noticed. But he’s spent more time in the state in recent weeks, and he’s looser on the stump, too, tossing jokes into his remarks, staying longer to mingle with voters and taking more questions.

“I know we have one more event after this, but I don’t want to leave without taking at least one more question,” Rubio said recently in Raymond at the third of four events that day.

• • •

Like Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich makes his life story a key part of his pitch. “First of all, I think it’s important for you to know that I grew up the son of a mailman, my dad carried mail on his back for 29 years. His father was a coal miner and my grandfather died of black lung as he was losing his eyesight,” he began a recent town hall in Hooksett.

It was his 50th town hall in the state and he marked the occasion with a giant red, white and blue American flag cake. They are events where he stresses his record as governor of a key swing state and his work in Congress as the chair of the House Budget Committee, while adding that he’s prepared to buck the Republican establishment — and has on issues such as expanding Medicaid.

“I’m talking to everybody, because I feel like it’s a message that can connect with everyone,” Kasich said. “That’s why I’m optimistic, and frankly it’s why we’re doing better and better up here.”

• • •

In 2012, nearly half of GOP primary voters in New Hampshire said they made their decision on election day, or in the days just prior to casting a ballot. It makes the next month crucial for those who seek to catch up to Trump.

“This is when the vast majority of voters will get engaged and start making their minds,” said Jennifer Horn, the chair of the state Republican Party.

And with a month to go before the Feb. 9 primary, those competing for their favor still have work to do.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a campaign like this before,” said Catherine Johnson, an independent voter who plans to vote in the GOP primary. “I feel like for once in my lifetime my vote actually really makes a difference.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons