Marco Rubio triumphantly returned to New Hampshire on Tuesday after finishing third in the Iowa caucus but Republican governor Chris Christie is not impressed.
“You know, Marco Rubio spent $5 million dollars more than Ted Cruz in Iowa to come in third,” Christie said in a an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So you know, I don’t think he should be, you know, walking around as if he won something.”
“He beat Ben Carson. Congratulations,” he added sarcastically.
In rhetoric usually reserved for President Obama, Christie spent Tuesday showing off his brawler side and proceeded to ridicule the freshman senator and question the buzz around his campaign.
“He never answers questions. He never gives anything but his canned speech,” Christie said, challenging Rubio to do more press gaggles, and answer more questions.
Yesterday, he described Rubio as a “boy in a bubble,” as staffers even posted memes of the Seinfeld episode where the character George gets in a fight with a bubble boy over a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Christie and his staff are proud of the blunt, tell it like it is style that the governor has honed in New Jersey, something Christie explains to voters on the stump is the product of his Irish father and Italian mother.
In the campaign’s view, Rubio is the opposite. Rubio is the slick young politician who memorizes his speeches and hides behind his staff who constantly feed him updated talking points.
When Hewitt asked why Christie was focusing his attacks on Rubio instead of Jeb Bush or John Kasich, Christie replied that it was a result of increased interest in the media about the freshman senator.
“Much to my own detriment at times, when you ask me a direct question, I give you a direct answer,” he said.
Christie believes that he has laid the groundwork for success in New Hampshire the correct way – meeting voters, answering every question, and holding lengthy town halls across the state.
“I’ve answered over 1,100 questions at town hall meetings now. And you know, that’s the kind of person we want up against Hillary Clinton,” he told Hewitt, boasting that his town halls were up to 2 hours long while Rubio’s were only 40 minutes.
Christie has invested 68 days campaigning in New Hampshire – twice that of Rubio who left his enthusiastic rally in Iowa and returned on his chartered jet to New Hampshire.
Rubio’s first New Hampshire event in Exeter last night was packed with 750 voters who were eager to see the surging candidate.
After town halls, Rubio traditionally leaves on time and whisks off to another campaign event or a fundraiser – but Rubio’s press secretary Brooke Sammon pointed out on Twitter that after his rally last night, Rubio lingered to meet voters and take pictures – even 40 minutes after the rally.
Gov. John Kasich and former Gov. Jeb Bush joined Christie questioning Rubio’s experience, but on the stump and speaking with reporters, they haven’t expressed as much distain for the freshman senator as Christie. All three governors are competing in the “establishment primary” and seeking a surprise victory in the state.
Rubio responded to Christie’s outburst by trash-talking the New Jersey governor – warning him to watch his temper.
“Chris has had a tough couple of days,” Rubio said in an interview with ABC News. “He’s not doing very well, and he did very poorly in Iowa. And sometimes when people run into adversity they don’t react well and they say things they maybe will later regret.”
Rubio’s staffers point to Christie’s “liberal record” on issues important to conservatives as the governor of a blue state.
But in his interview with Hewitt, Christie explained why he dismissed Rubio as a serious candidate for president.
“I’ve heard the same speech from Marco Rubio since 2010,” he said, referring to Rubio’s speech about American values and a 21st century conservatism.
Christie boasted of his leadership experience during Hurricane Sandy comparing it with Rubio’s failed leadership effort to pass immigration reform in the Senate.
“I’ve dealt with difficult issues in New Jersey – the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, dealing with a Democratic legislature day after day after day, and never running away from the fight, but always running into the fight, never running away from the heat like Marco Rubio did when he ran away from his amnesty bill in Congress, but running into the fire. That’s who I am and who I’ve always been, and that’s who I’ll be,” he said.