At a campaign event in a small winery in Ames, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came out swinging at his Republican counterparts. He started off his stump speech recounting a moment from the most recent Republican debate, in which the moderators showed a series of clips of Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio commenting on their immigration stances. Christie desribed that he provided his own perspective from the debate stage that portrayed Cruz and Rubio as having inconsistent stances on the issues of amnesty, legalization, and the Gang of Eight immigration bill that Rubio sponsored. He criticized their claims of ideological consistency, stating, “It is easy to understand, they changed their minds.” He then joked that voters would need a “Washington-to-English dictionary” to figure out what they really meant.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were not the only victims of Christie’s standup routine on the stump. He followed his remarks about the two young senators with a joke about current frontrunner Donald Trump. Christie began with an explanation of his interactions with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during trade meetings and visits between New Jersey and Mexico. Christie called President Nieto smart and said there’s no way he would pay for the wall. After stating this in a manner of fact tone he launched into a full-blown Trump impersonation mimicking, “It’ll be a beautiful wall, a fabulous wall, an amazing wall. It will go from one end to the other, it’ll be beautiful with a door in the middle of it. The good people will come in and the bad people will go out. It will be a wall with my name on it. And the Mexicans will pay for it and that’s that or I won’t do it.”
Finished with his comedy roast of his primary challengers, Christie transitioned to explaining why he was the most accomplished man for the task. Focusing on his stint as a federal prosecutor in the wake of 9/11, he spoke about how he would be tough on terror and keep America safe amidst continued turmoil in the Middle East. He proceeded to lay out the necessary qualities for the Oval Office. According to Christie, the head of the American executive branch needs more experience than just managing a “thirty-person Senate staff,” a thinly-veiled comparison of Cruz, Rubio, and President Obama. Wrapping up his speech, Christie made one last appeal to voters to really think about what it means to be the Commander-in-Chief of the United States as they head to the caucuses on Monday night.
With polls indicating that Trump supporters are some of the most loyal in this election, it seems that Christie’s campaign has tailored itself towards the supporters of the other candidates in the primary, especially moderates. One Iowan in his early 60s, Doug Timmins, said he was deciding between Christie, Rubio, and Cruz. Timmins was not alone as similar sentiments were echoed by other attendees. Another woman in her 30s said she had narrowed her choices down to Rubio, Fiorina, and Christie, and noted she was looking to vote for a candidate with a positive outlook for the country.