Chris Christie heads to New Hampshire as White House race heats up
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible Republican 2016 White House contender, is set to speak to voters in New Hampshire on Tuesday, during a week that will see a wave of presidential hopefuls barnstorm the key early-voting state.
Christie, lauded for his management of the state’s recovery from the devastating Superstorm Sandy in 2012 but more recently rapped for alleged political bullying in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal, will commence his visit with a speech to a politically connected audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester.
His remarks will come during a week when the state’s voters will see about a half-dozen declared and undeclared Republican candidates appear at diners and town hall-style meetings ahead of a weekend Republican leadership conference.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian who declared his run last week, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has not yet made his interest official, are also due in the state in the coming days.
The spate of announcements raises the pressure on Christie and other as-yet-undeclared candidates to make a decision, said Dante Scala, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire.
“He’s in danger of becoming the northeast version of Rick Perry,” Scala said, referring to the former Texas governor and failed 2012 presidential candidate.
“He has to give New Hampshire voters a reason to give him a second look. Even though he hasn’t run for president before, a lot of likely Republican voter feel like they know enough about him to make a decision.”
A poll last week of likely voters in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary showed Christie in the second tier of possible White House contenders, with the support of just 5.8 percent of 1,064 Republican and Republican-leaning independents polled by Reach Communications on April 8 and 9.
The poll showed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the field with the support of 22.7 percent of likely voters, followed by Bush with 16.5 percent and Paul with 14.9 percent. The survey had a 3 percentage point margin of error.
The field of Republican candidates is growing quickly, with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida having declared his candidacy on Monday.
That stands in a sharp contrast to the Democratic field, where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially made her long-expected candidacy official on Sunday.
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Bernadette Baum)