Christie, in New Hampshire, Reconnects With 2016 Supporters

Don’t ask Chris Christie what “lane” there’s for him within the Republican main. Don’t ask how somebody polling at 1 p.c, who’s sharply vital of Donald J. Trump, may probably win the 2024 nomination when the social gathering base has no tolerance for assaults on the previous president.

“I feel there’s this fiction about lanes,” Mr. Christie mentioned on Thursday in New Hampshire, his second exploratory go to in a month. “There’s one lane, OK? There should not a number of lanes. On the entrance of that lane proper now’s Donald Trump. If you wish to win the Republican nomination for president, it’s important to beat Donald Trump and get to the entrance of that lane.”

Mr. Christie, the previous two-term governor of New Jersey and unsuccessful 2016 presidential candidate, was visiting the Republicans’ first main state as a part of a trial interval that he mentioned would culminate by mid-Might in a choice a few 2024 run.

He spoke to a small group of reporters who got here to watch him in a dialogue with a dozen folks at a residential therapy program for drug-addicted pregnant girls. Habit is a matter Mr. Christie has lengthy been captivated with, and he visited the identical program, Hope on Haven Hill, eight years in the past whereas operating for president. “I believed earlier than Covid that that is the general public well being disaster of our era, and I’m much more satisfied now the Covid has handed that it’s,” he informed the group.

Afterward, he portrayed the go to as an train in reconnecting with individuals who had supported his 2016 marketing campaign, which ended abruptly after his sixth-place end within the New Hampshire main, regardless of intensive campaigning within the state. He additionally met this week in Washington with former donors and marketing campaign workers to gauge their reactions to a brand new run.

It’s clear that Mr. Christie sees potential in being probably the most outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, whom he has bashed over 2020 election lies in addition to for Republican defeats prior to now three nationwide elections.

However that tack could also be a dropping proposition. Republicans have been abandoning probably the most distinguished Trump various, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, to rally across the former president. A ballot this week of possible Republican main voters in New Hampshire by the College of New Hampshire Survey Middle confirmed Mr. DeSantis falling to 22 p.c, from 43 p.c in a January survey by the identical pollster. Mr. Trump far outdistanced rivals, at 42 p.c. Mr. Christie was at 1 p.c.

“I don’t suppose that anyone goes to beat Donald Trump by sidling as much as him, taking part in footsie with him and pretending that you just’re virtually like him,” Mr. Christie mentioned. “I’m going to inform folks the info about his presidency and about his conduct. In the event that they resolve they need that once more, that’s as much as them.”

In a while Thursday, Mr. Christie held a city hall-style occasion at New England Faculty in Henniker, N.H. He spoke to about 100 college students and a smattering of adults seated in a semicircle of white folding chairs.

He ran by way of a menu of what he recognized as Mr. Trump’s coverage failures in workplace, then took purpose at his urging supporters to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which Mr. Trump passively watched on TV. “And when he noticed that, you recognize what he did? He ate his well-done cheeseburger, and sat there and did nothing.”

He expressed disgust that Republicans would consider renominating Mr. Trump. “Donald Trump is a TV star. Nothing extra, nothing much less,” Mr. Christie mentioned. “And let me recommend to you that if we put it again to the White Home, the reruns might be worse than the unique present.”

Mr. Christie, who was some of the combative governors of the fashionable period — desirous to joust with lawmakers, hecklers or New Jersey residents who confronted him in boards — claimed, nonetheless, that what the nation wanted is a return to civility, and he was simply the one to revive it.

It didn’t forestall him, although, from getting in a jab at President Biden’s age. Ought to the president win a second time period, Mr. Christie prompt, he may effectively die in workplace and be succeeded by his vp. “A vote for Donald Trump,” he mentioned, implying that he would certainly lose, “is a vote for Kamala Harris.”

Taking questions, Mr. Christie was requested by a teen whether or not, given Mr. Trump’s try to subvert democracy, he would have voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Mr. Christie demurred. He nonetheless would have supported Mr. Trump, he mentioned, as a result of he most well-liked his insurance policies.

Afterward, voters mentioned that they appreciated Mr. Christie’s candor however that it was too early to decide to backing him.

“I hope he runs. I feel it’d be good to see him within the combine this 12 months,” mentioned J.P. Marzullo, a retiree and former Republican state consultant from Deering, N.H., who supported Mr. Christie in 2016. However he wished to play the sphere. “I’m nonetheless taking a look at another folks proper now,” he mentioned.

Josh Merriam, 19, a scholar from Gilford, N.H., mentioned the night was “the primary presidential hearing-thing I’ve ever been to,” and mentioned his curiosity was piqued by Mr. Christie. “I do like Trump,” he mentioned, however then he quoted again Mr. Christie’s warning {that a} Trump vote was akin to a vote for Ms. Harris. That was not a prospect he cared to ponder.