New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans on doing Friday exactly what he’s been doing for months now: holding a town hall meeting in New Hampshire and speaking to and with his supporters there. His bid for the White House has put an emphasis on such events, where he is skilled from years of practice in his home state.
Christie has been largely discounted in the Republican 2016 presidential race so far, but his all-in, personal approach in the Granite State, coupled with the focus he’s placed on national security and terrorism, seems at last to be paying off. While still recovering from a local transportation scandal that made national headlines, he's been steadily rising in the polls and racking up endorsements. But the fact that his surge has invited attacks from front-runner Donald Trump may be the best indicator of his progress.
But, there’s another way to tell he’s doing well, aside from favorability polls. As Christie has seen his stock rise in New Hampshire, Trump has now turned his sights on New Jersey's governor. Revisiting the “Bridgegate” debate, Trump has recently been telling supporters at rallies that Christie knew about the traffic closure as it happened.
“You know that he is doing well because Donald Trump is starting to say he’s guilty on the bridge,” said Ford O’Connell, a former adviser for Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign who is unaffiliated with a 2016 race.
Christie’s potential return to grace can be compared to McCain in 2008, when the Arizona senator won New Hampshire after months of poor polls, O’Connell opined. In that cycle, McCain was widely viewed as the front-runner going in, but he dropped dramatically in the polls in 2007 because of his support for adding troops to the Iraq War. He eventually won the nomination. “There are some similarities in the sense that the path Christie is taking, he started out as one of the top two then he got slimed with ‘Bridgegate’… and now he’s on his resurgence.”
Christie’s rebound can be attributed to several additional factors, political analysts and observers said. New Hampshire prides itself as being a state that thinks independently and values one-on-one interaction between presidential hopefuls and voters.