HOOKSETT, New Hampshire — Governor Chris Christie needs New Hampshire for his presidential campaign to survive, and so he is working the state harder than most in an attempt to make an impact on the field.
This morning in Hooksett, New Hampshire, Christie campaigned at Robie’s Country Store, a historic campaign stop for presidential candidates who bet everything on the New Hampshire Republican primary.
“This campaign has got a long, long way to go,” he reminded voters this morning.
Since announcing his run for president June 30, Christie has invested his time here, already completing 15 town halls and answering about 200 questions publicly on camera.
“We’re going to be like the bad relatives that you invite … you know the ones you feel like you have to invite, and you really hope they’ll say no, but they always say yes … that’s going to be me and Mary Pat,” Christie joked about his campaign, as the crowd chuckled.
After going home to New Jersey this weekend, Christie will be back in New Hampshire by Monday.
Christie is quite comfortable with the town hall format, even opening up the informal meet-and-greet event for a round of questions, effectually serving as a mini town hall event in the country store.
Campaign memorabilia was featured prominently on the store walls, as Christie greeted voters and answered their questions, framing the event as a moment in political history.
“If you look at these different photographs, the campaign memorabilia on the walls, it’ll also remind you of some extraordinary, challenging, times in our country’s history,” Christie told voters here this morning. “And how men and women stepped up to the plate, to leadership, to offer themselves as folks who could maybe change the course of the history of our country, and many of the folks on these walls have contributed in changing the course of history in our country.”
Among the scattered historical campaign posters was a signed 2000 John McCain poster of him as a Navy pilot. In 2000, McCain received a big boost after he unexpectedly beat George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary in what was described by the press as “The McCain Mutiny.”
In 2008, McCain’s investment in the state paid off again, upsetting Romney by only about five points, eventually winning the Republican nomination.
Romney eventually won big in New Hampshire in 2012, with Rep. Ron Paul coming in second. Jon Huntsman, another candidate that bet on New Hampshire, lost it all in New Hampshire after coming in third place.
But both Romney and McCain lost their presidential elections respectively — against their Democratic opponents. The few bright spots in Republican presidential history reached back to Ronald Reagan and both of the Bush presidents.
Personalized photos addressed to the Robie family were featured prominently signed by President George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, as well as signatures from Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
“To come in here and now be a candidate for president of the United States and see all of its history is really overwhelming,” Christie admitted while speaking to voters.
The memorabilia walls also served as a political graveyard for candidates who lost miserably in New Hampshire, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Even the longest of long shot runs for president were represented, including a run by Sen. Arlen Spector in 1996. In 1968, George Romney pulled out of the race even before the election, once polling showed him losing big in New Hampshire.
That’s the campaign’s biggest concern, as Christie is working the state to make a difference. A recent Monmouth University poll shows Christie in eighth place — well below Ohio Governor John Kasich, another long-shot candidate.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Christie dismissed the polls as effectively as he could, describing the “obsession with polls” as “counterproductive at this point.”
Earlier in the morning, Christie spent time on camera within the store exclusively with Fox and Friends, denouncing the Monmouth poll as biased.
“If you go look at his tweets – this is not objective pollster,” he said. “This is a liberal who likes to spout liberal things.”
He reminded reporters that Herman Cain was leading New Hampshire in 2011 at about at this point, and Giuliani was leading the field in 2008.
“I don’t think either one of them became the Republican nominee, nor did they win the New Hampshire primary,” Christie said.
No one asked the governor about Trump, but it was clear that Christie believes that if he continues patiently in New Hampshire, he might benefit from an implosion at the top if that happens in the next seven months.
“Let’s wait,” he urged reporters, who questioned him about the polls. “That’s why we campaign, campaigns matter.”