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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Chris Christie in New Hampshire

Chris Christie in New Hampshire
Steffen Schmidt

I am in New Hampshire today watching the 2016 presidential campaign unfold in the first primary state. Last night I spent 3 hours chatting with political activists and Republicans who have run for office in the Granite State.

“Why is Chris Christie concentrating on New Hampshire and Maine as he rolls out his candidacy?” I asked.

The reason seems to be that he is betting the very conservative and faith based Iowa GOP caucus voters are NOT his best chance to rise in the polls. His credentials on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, the confederate flag, and other social issues are inferior to most of the other contenders.

Christie cancelled several New Hampshire events one in Derry where I had planned to cover his campaign.

On the other hand his campaign has its eyes on the large number of no-party (i.e. independent) voters in New Hampshire who can vote in the GOP primary.

(Picture  courtesy ChrisChristie web site)
Independents are not as ideological as Iowa’s hard core conservative Republicans. Therefore Christie is playing “The McCain” as they call it here in New Hampshire.

You may remember that John McCain basically skipped Iowa in 2008 but still managed to stay relevant by doing well in New Hampshire. McCain did make a few appearances in the Hawkeye State and had a “skeleton” crew pushing his campaign. And, coming in tied for third place with Fred Thompson at 13% held up the Iowa rule that to have a chance at the nomination you must come in first, second, or third in Iowa. McCain won in New Hampshire and eventually beat Mike Huckabee and others to win the nomination.

HOWEVER, some New Hampshire political geeks told me that Christie could get “Giulianied.” That’s in reference to former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani who decided to skip Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and try to make his stand in Florida. That turned out to be a fatal mistake as McCain won all of the Florida delegates on primary day.

The Iowa bounce, or lack thereof, will be a focus of Iowa State University's free online course I will be conducting, starting September 1. The course is open for enrollment now at HAVE YOU signed up yet.? Do it now. No pain. No specific time commitment.

So there is a great deal of interest in Chris Christie’s “Northeast” campaign, which seems to run counter to where the GOP has it’s strengths. His abrasive and in your face personality is thought to fit the northeast culture better than “Iowa nice.” However, I attended Christie’s education speech in Ames and he seemed controlled and got a generally positive reception from attendees so I think there is still room and time for him to include Iowa in his strategy. 

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