New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told New Hampshire voters he would announce his 2016 plans around late spring and said President Barack Obama should “be ashamed of himself” for his Cuba policy during the Republican’s first town hall in the Granite State on Wednesday.
Christie fielded a wide range of questions in the state that hosts the opening primary of the 2016 presidential race, seeking to portray himself as a potential candidate unafraid of candor and tough honesty. His team branded the event a “Tell it Like it Is” town hall.
The tough talking governor, known to clash at times with his constituents, mostly spent the 90 minute forum slamming the president for his handling of ISIS, negotiations with Iran, and an overall lack of leadership.
He also took a swipe at Hillary Clinton when discussing campaign finance: "I read somewhere today that Secretary Clinton said she intends to raise two and a half billion dollars for her campaign, but she then wants to get the corrupting money out of politics. You know, it’s classic, it’s classic politician speech."
But a woman’s question about Christie’s support for Americans to consciously object to vaccinations did result in the type of straight talk advertised. “You cannot count on me for that,” he told her.
Christie told the crowd he is still focused on leading the Garden State and will not make a decision about a presidential run until after June 30, the deadline for New Jersey's budget agreement. Potential GOP rivals like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have so far overshadowed him in the polls, but Christie is planning to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire and early voting states in the hopes of jump starting his expected candidacy.
His strongest rhetoric during a question about Obama’s decision to lift Cuba from the list of nations that support terrorism, a topic Bush declined to weigh in on when asked on Tuesday.
“It’s a national disgrace that the president is engaged in that kind of conduct, he should be ashamed of himself,” he said.