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Christie to Bush: I don't need fake compliments

Story highlights

  • After Bush criticized Christie, who Bush still called a "friend," the New Jersey governor drew on his blunt style to knock him
  • Asked if Bush was prepared for the White House, Christie said, "He's not. He's just not"

Rochester, New Hampshire (CNN)The verbal brawl between Jeb Bush and Chris Christie escalated this week as the two presidential candidates battle in the establishment lane in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

After the former Florida governor criticized Christie, who Bush still called a "friend," the New Jersey governor drew on his blunt style to knock him Tuesday as being "fake."
    "Jeb can say whatever he wants to say, and you can tell him, stop saying I'm a nice guy and he likes me," Christie told reporters here Tuesday night. "I don't need the fake compliment leading into the criticism."
    Earlier in the day, Bush critiqued Christie's abilities as governor in an interview with MSNBC, saying he has a "better record" as a state's chief executive.
    He pointed to New Jersey's credit downgrades and problems with the state's pension fund -- two issues that Christie blames on his Democratic predecessors -- while highlighting Florida's AAA bond rating and job growth during his tenure from 1999-2007.
    "That didn't happen by osmosis or a fairy godmother came down and just made it happen," Bush said. "That required changes in policy. So I like Chris Christie, I think he's a talent for sure, and he's my friend, but I've got a record."
    Upon hearing about Bush's jab, Christie responded forcefully Tuesday night, saying that Bush benefited from having a Republican legislature, while Christie faces a Democratic one in Trenton.
    "He had a free ride during some of the greatest economic times this country has ever seen, so the fact that he's taking bows for doing well under those circumstance, he can take his bows," Christie said. "It's his record but he wouldn't know the first thing to do if he was in New Jersey for a week and dealt with a Democratic legislature, hostile interest groups, huge unions."
    On whether Bush was prepared for the White House, Christie said, "He's not. He's just not."
    Bush wasn't the only opponent that Christie was sparring with on Tuesday. After a group supporting Marco Rubio put out two ads hitting Christie, the Florida senator himself knocked Christie's past support of Common Core.
    "This country cannot afford a president that's not going to reverse the direction Barack Obama's taken our country," Rubio told reporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "We can't have another president that supports Common Core or gun control or expanding Obamacare."
    Christie then told The Washington Post that Rubio can't "slime" his way into the White House and told reporters later Tuesday "that's what happens when you're young and you're inexperienced in this business." He described Rubio as being hypocritical since Rubio was the one who gained big praise for bashing Bush for trying to attack him on a debate stage last fall.
    "You forget that what goes around comes around," Christie continued. "And so you want to be self-righteous and pontificate to Jeb Bush, OK, want to do that in front of 20 million on national television? OK, but if you then start throwing stones, people are rightfully gonna ask were you being genuine back there or was that just a show?"