Story highlights

Chris Christie hit Donald Trump on Monday for his claims that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11

Christie also touted a New Hampshire newspaper endorsement, saying he thinks he'll win the key state

Washington CNN —  

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hit Donald Trump on Monday over the real estate mogul’s claims about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11 and for mocking a journalist’s disability.

In an interview with CNN’s Jamie Gangel – his first since picking up a key newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire – the Republican presidential candidate firmed up his answer to Trump’s claim that American Muslims cheered the attacks, calling those claims false.

“It’s just wrong. It’s factually wrong,” Christie said. “Everybody else can figure out what they think is outrageous or not outrageous – in the context of Donald, outrageous is a high bar.”

Trump blasted Christie, too, on Monday, saying his comments now are much stronger than those the New Jersey governor made a week ago, when he said he didn’t “recall it happening. I don’t think it did.”

“He didn’t say that the other day. He was very weak the other day,” Trump told reporters after a long meeting with black pastors at Trump Tower in New York City.

“So the other day he said it like, well, he doesn’t know. And now, I guess he feels a little bit emboldened,” Trump said. “He must be careful with what he says.”

Christie also said it was the “wrong thing to do” for Trump to mock a reporter who is disabled. That reporter had contradicted Trump’s characterization of a 2001 report about police investigating celebrations of the 9/11 attacks by Muslims in New Jersey.

“You shouldn’t be making fun of people with disabilities. It’s just not worthy of someone running for president of the United States,” Christie said.

The reporter, Serge Kovaleski, has posted articles featuring interviews he’s done with Trump dating back to the 1980s. But Trump has said he doesn’t remember meeting Kovaleski. Still, asked if he believes Trump knew what he was doing, Christie said it “appeared that way.”

Still, Christie said he’d vote for Trump over Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in a general election.

“He’d be a better president than Hillary Clinton,” Christie said. “I’m gonna support the Republican nominee.”

Christie’s long-languishing campaign got a boost on Sunday from the New Hampshire Union Leader, an influential newspaper that endorsed his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Christie said he thinks he’ll win the key first-in-the-nation primary state.

“What it shows is that the work we’ve put in here in New Hampshire, the plans we’ve laid out – that people are taking them seriously and taking them to heart,” Christie said. “And we’re thrilled about the endorsement.”

The bombastic New Jersey governor defended his own rhetoric – including once telling a protester to “sit down and shut up.”

But he said he did cross the line at least once: In March 2012, when he told a man who criticized plans to rename a college campus that, once the man graduates from law school, if “you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to be thrown in jail – idiot.”

Christie acknowledged that the Bridgegate scandal has hurt his presidential hopes, saying that “politically, you know, we had a tough time” over the last year.