Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Christie, Others Hit Final Stretch in New Hampshire

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Christie, Others Hit Final Stretch in New Hampshire

Article excerpt

HAMPTON, N.H. * On Tuesday, New Hampshire voters go to the polls. But on Sunday, Hillary Clinton was already in Michigan. And other candidates, even Jeb Bush, say their campaigns will go on no matter how they do on Tuesday. Donald Trump says he doesn't need to win New Hampshire, anyway.

From their movements and remarks on Sunday, you'd think New Hampshire was unimportant in the race for president. In fact, it's the nation's first primary and the next in a series of clues into what Americans want in their next president. But the field is still crowded, and the electorates that await the candidates in South Carolina and Nevada are markedly more diverse. So there are more tests to come for the candidates and the parties.

Republican hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio was playing down his rough outing in Saturday night's GOP debate, while touting his overall campaign momentum after his third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, hoping to use that momentum to boost his chances in Tuesday's contest.

Donald Trump, who finished second in Iowa, was pleased with his debate performance and place atop New Hampshire's GOP polls, and he was doubling down Sunday on his call for the U.S. to reinstitute waterboarding and even harsher treatment of foreign prisoners.

On the Democratic side, New Hampshire favorite Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton who narrowly won Iowa were avoiding predictions about Tuesday and looking beyond to South Carolina and Nevada, the next two states in the nomination process.

But for other candidates, such as Republican Govs. Chris Christie, John Kasich and Jeb Bush, the task is to make sure the closing argument here isn't their last.

Christie, fresh from a vigorous debate performance in which he battered Rubio as unprepared for the presidency, told a town hall crowd Sunday in Hampton, N.H., that his exchanges with Rubio showed "who's ready. I am. He's not."

Then he shifted his focus to Kasich and Bush, as the three governors battle for many of the same voters in an effort to remain relevant beyond New Hampshire.

As he did during Saturday's debate, Christie credited Kasich Sunday for his management of Ohio, but then Christie turned the compliment to faint praise. "It's like Candy Land," he argued at a campaign stop in Hampton, because Kasich gets to work with a GOP- run legislature. Democrats have run New Jersey for the duration of Christie's tenure.

Christie told a voter that it wouldn't necessarily be an "enormous mistake" to support Kasich. "There are some others I'd say that about," Christie said. "But I'm just better, because I've been tested."

Christie added a jab at Bush. "Go to Jeb today and ask him how the joy is going," Christie said, a reference to Bush's promise last summer to be "the joyful candidate" among Republicans.

"There's not a damn thing that's joyful about this process," Christie said. …

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