Aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plan to arrange a series of town hall meetings for him in New Hampshire this year, hoping that his direct, forceful style could help revive his political fortunes after a difficult couple of months where discussion focused on topics like vaccinations and his relationship with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The governor's supporters believe that in New Hampshire, his direct – even combative – style "would play well in the state that analysts say is his best chance at victory" among the early battlegrounds for the GOP presidential nomination next year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While the Christie team is also setting up campaigns in Iowa and South Carolina, Republican voters there tend to support more conservative candidates.
Of the three earliest voting states, Mr. Christie, who has not formally entered the race, drew double-digit support only in New Hampshire in an NBC News/Marist poll
By contrast, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush polled above 10 percent in all three states.
According to Mike DuHaime, a longtime advisor to Christie, the governor's "authenticity" will attract voters in New Hampshire. The town hall meetings offer Christie a chance to perform in a format where he has thrived. In New Jersey, he has held 127 town meetings, displaying a fiery, take-no-prisoners approach that sparked a movement to draft him to run for president in 2012.
Answering questions in New Hampshire town halls would also force Mr. Christie to address issues where he has found himself at odds with conservatives, including Common Core national education standards and illegal immigration.
Christie also favored the 2013 Marketplace Fairness Act, which would have allowed states to collect sales taxes from online retailers. New Hampshire does not have a sales or personal income tax, and many voters there are wary of politicians they regard as pro-sales tax.
"Some states are looking to enhance revenue,” said Jeb Bradley, a former Republican congressman who is now majority leader of the New Hampshire state Senate. "Sorry, we’re in a no-sales tax state, so that’s not going over so well."
But Christie has had a difficult couple of months, with a trade visit to Britain overshadowed by his comments on measles vaccinations and pictures of him celebrating the successes of the Dallas Cowboys in the owner's box with Jerry Jones.
Potentially more troubling were allegations that Christie pushed
the Port Authority to award a lucrative contract to a company that Jones partially owned.
Christie "should spend a lot of time in New Hampshire," said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist based in Texas.
"You have to start winning primaries at some point and accumulating delegates," added Mackowiak, who sees Christie as too centrist for Iowa and South Carolina. "Your own supporters will start to move somewhere else otherwise."
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