New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie repeated his criticism of fellow Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's voting record Wednesday, saying "it would have been nice if he took the time to show up."
"I'm not saying Senator Rubio has to be in the Senate every day, I know he's running for president," Christie said of his rival. "But this wasn't just any day. This was the day that we were voting on the budget between now and September of 16."
Christie made the comments to reporters after a town hall meeting in Marshalltown, IA, on the final day of his three-day holiday swing though the state. Just 33 days out from the Iowa caucuses, Christie has been touting his executive experience over other candidates to voters at stops throughout the state — telling them not to elect another senator to the White House.
"Let us not make same mistake again, let us not pick another United States Senator to be next president of the United States," the New Jersey governor told voters. "We've seen this movie, we're living it right now and we don't need to live it again."
Christie's comments come as a Super Pac supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also released an ad attacking Rubio for putting "politics first." The ad highlights Rubio's missed votes and absence from national security hearings in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
Christie told NBC News his tougher tone isn't a reaction to the shrinking proximity of the caucuses. Instead, he says, it's about drawing distinctions.
"I've been in enough campaigns and in enough really close campaigns in a really difficult state for republicans to win," Christie said. "If they think this is tough now, we're nowhere close to tough yet."
Arguing that his criticism isn't an attack against his opponent, Christie joked, "Where I'm from that's just like some polite conversation."
"It was hardly an attack. If Marco's that thin-skinned, he doesn't belong in this business," Christie concluded.