Jersey Chris Christie pays visit to New Hampshire
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[June 21, 2014]
By Ted Siefer
BEDFORD N.H. (Reuters) - New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie on Friday paid his first visit since 2012 to New
Hampshire, a key state in presidential politics, touting a Republican
candidate for governor while shrugging off questions about a 2016 run
for the White House and “Bridgegate.”
The stated purpose of Christie's trip was to support the campaign
of gubernatorial hopeful Walt Havenstein, a former executive at the
international defense contractor BAE Systems.
Should he win the Republican primary in September, Havenstein would
challenge Maggie Hassan, the popular Democratic governor, who is
seeking a second term in the November general election.
Several Republicans said to be eyeing a bid for the White House in
2016 have already made visits to New Hampshire, a crucial political
bellwether as home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries
every four years.
But Christie told reporters on Friday that he had come strictly in
his capacity as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He
said it was “foolish” to be thinking about the presidential race at
“If we as a party don’t lay the right groundwork by electing the
right governor and taking the U.S. Senate in 2014, we won’t have a
strong foundation to run on, no matter who the candidate is,”
Christie was speaking outside T-Bones Great American Eatery, a
popular campaign destination in the well-to-do suburb of Bedford.
Christie brushed aside a question about “Bridgegate,” the scandal
surrounding the closure of several lanes of the George Washington
Bridge last September in what critics said was an act of political
retribution aimed at a Democratic New Jersey mayor who declined to
endorse the governor.
Investigations by New Jersey lawmakers and federal authorities are
ongoing. Christie has denied any involvement in the bridge closures.
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Asked if anyone had mentioned the scandal during his visit, Christie
told a reporter, “Nope, except for you guys. You’re the only ones
who care about it.”
Christie was warmly received by the patrons at T-Bones, many of whom
were settling down for dinner when he swept through, shaking hands,
patting backs and posing for photos.
Philip Fontaine, 77, said he liked Christie, and he felt the bridge
controversy had been blown out of proportion. “The press hounded the
hell out of him,” he said.
Robert Sterling, 62, said Christie had a common touch that New
Hampshire residents appreciated. “In New Hampshire, people really
like to shake hands with candidates and see what they’re really
like,” he said.
(Editing by Steve Gorman)
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