Nightly News   |  November 06, 2013

Jersey voters pick Clinton, not Christie

In an exit poll, New Jersey voters favored Hillary Clinton over Chris Christie for president, one indication of the hurdles Christie may face if seeking broader national appeal. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> now about last night. specifically the two closely watched races for governor. in virginia, close call but when it was over victory for the democrat there, terry mcauliffe . in new jersey, a landslide win for the republican chris christie . tonight the question, what does it all mean, if anything, going forward? nbc's kelly o'donnell has our report.

>> reporter: calling this a thank you stop.

>> good morning! [ applause ]

>> reporter: today governor christie visited freshmen at this public school . all smiles after a 22-point victory. the first new jersey republican to win this big in decades. he turned most of the state from blue to red in yesterday's election.

>> i know if we can do this in trenton, new jersey, maybe the folks in washington, d.c. should tune in their tvs right now. see how it's done.

>> reporter: while christie said his only obligation is working for his home state, he kicked off his hour-long news conference.

>> we'll go to an out of towner first. kelly , you have been following me around for a week.

>> reporter: knowing the down kri and especially conservatives who control republican primaries will make tough judgments about his chances. are you prepared to make adjustments to your personal style tone down your brashness to appeal to people beyond new jersey?

>> no.

>> reporter: none at all?

>> no. this is who i am, kelly . you're asking me to be a different person.

>> reporter: the big personality insists the push for president is no distraction.

>> oh, please. it's such a burden for you to speculate about me being the leader of the free world . stop, i'm so burdened. that's a huge ego to complain about that. it's complimentary.

>> reporter: the backdrop he chose for his first public event sends a political message. he picked union city , known as little havana . despite his broad appeal he faces serious hurdles. in an exit poll new jersey voters didn't pick him. instead favoring hillary clinton for president 48 to 44.

>> chris christie is in the wing of of the party that wants to expand it and make it bigger. that's the tradition of ronald reagan . he reasserted that last night as a conservative. it's a very big deal for a beleaguered national republican party .

>> reporter: in that republican defeat in virginia for governor, tea party candidate ken cuccinelli lost to democrat and friend of the clintons terry mcauliffe . chuck todd reports cuccinelli's team is upset with chris christie saying they wanted his help and didn't get it. brian?

>> kelly o'donnell covering chris christie in new jersey tonight. thanks.