GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie is amping up his famously tough-talking style to beat back attack ads from rival Sen. Marco Rubio, declaring the Florida lawmaker won't be able "to slime his way to the White House."
On the campaign trail in New Hampshire — where the New Jersey governor has won the endorsement of the state's influential Union Leader newspaper
— Christie unleashed the barbed criticism after a flurry of negative ads in the early-voting state, The Washington Post
"I just don't think Marco Rubio's going to be able to slime his way to the White House," Christie tells the Post. "He wants to put out a whole bunch of negative ads? Go ahead. I hope that he will acknowledge at some point that I couldn't care less."
Saying Rubio has "never been in a tough race in his life," Christie slammed the Floridian for his bipartisan "Gang of Eight" work on a failed 2013 immigration bill that has often been criticized by conservatives.
"The guy who advocated for amnesty and then ran away when the topic got too hot tells you two things: He's not a reliable conservative, A, and, B, whenever it gets too hot, Marco turns tail and runs," Christie tells the Post.
"I'm not the least bit concerned that Marco Rubio will hurt me with conservatives. Marco Rubio has work himself to do with conservatives."
The Post notes Christie is battling for position, especially in New Hampshire, with three other center-right GOP presidential contenders: Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
One super PAC supporting Rubio
is running ads in New Hampshire painting Christie as supporting Common Core, expanding Medicaid under Obamacare — and as tainted by his record as governor and a 2014 Bridge-gate political scandal.
"If Marco thinks that . . . having his big donors from Madison Avenue put a few ads up in New Hampshire is going to shake me, that just again shows his inexperience and shows you what he'll be like against Hillary Clinton," Christie tells the Post.
"If he's overreacting to this — now — that just proves my point that he's not ready to be the nominee."
Christie tells the Post he'll withstand negative ads from rivals — just as he did in his first gubernatorial race in 2009, when incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine spent tens of millions of dollars against him.
"The reason we won is because I had the better message and I was the better messenger," Christie said. "I think every successful campaign is about tomorrow, not about yesterday... voters don't vote on what you did. They vote on what you say you're going to do."
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