Editor’s Note: Watch Jake Tapper’s full interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on CNN’s “The Lead” at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Chris Christie is campaigning in New Hampshire just hours before the polls close
He's touting his strong debate performance against Marco Rubio as a reason for voters to choose him
Chris Christie on primary day continued his rhetorical assault on Sen. Marco Rubio, mocking another instance of the Florida senator repeating a line on the stump and calling into question his resume.
“Not surprised; that’s who he is,” the New Jersey governor said Tuesday of the Rubio town hall moment Monday where the senator followed a sentence saying “we know how hard it is to instill our values in our kids, instead of the values they try to ram down our throats” with this similar sentence – “In the 21st Century it’s become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church, instead of the values they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, in popular culture.”
To critics such as Christie, the moment – following as it did similar repetitions at Saturday’s debate – underlined Rubio as inauthentic and too closely hewn to talking-points. To Rubio supporters, it’s much ado about nothing, a disciplined candidate being attacked by rivals desperate to find something to criticize.
“He’s a very talented young man and he has a great future,” Christie said on his campaign bus. “But it’s just not now. And he’s just not ready. He doesn’t have the depth or the substance. And he doesn’t have it because he hasn’t experienced anything.”
With supporters of Donald Trump staying fairly loyal, Christie has been gunning for Rubio for weeks here, hoping to stem any momentum that Rubio built up before and after his third place showing in Iowa.
“I mean, Marco Rubio will leave the Senate this year and there will not be any evidence he was ever there,” Christie said, “any evidence except for the amnesty bill he co-authored with Chuck Schumer and then ran away from.”
Christie’s criticism of Rubio at Saturday night’s debate was seen by pundits as fairly devastating, though the Rubio campaign argues they’ve seen no evidence it slowed his support in New Hampshire.
“That’s all I’ve heard about for 72 hours,” Christie told CNN. “Anybody who comes up to me whether it’s a current supporter or someone new signing on, or even undecided voters, said how important the debate was.”
The New Jersey governor said he had no idea about how he would do in Tuesday’s primary. “I think anybody could wind up from second to sixth in this thing and not be shocked.”
Christie said his final pitch to voters is very much rooted in the debate. “You want someone who is prepared, experienced, mature, and tested to get on the stage against Hillary Clinton,” he said. “If you are not ready, she will eat you alive. And first, before we get to the White House, we have to go through her.”
“Nobody else on that stage – and lots tried, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump – all tried to go after Marco Rubio. They weren’t effective at it. I was. And I’ll be just as effective against Hillary Clinton.”