LONDONDERRY, NH–Although he has not yet announced his candidacy, New Jersey Governor Christie continues to make it clear he is seeking the nation’s highest office by embarking on a series of public appearances across the state of New Hampshire.
A town hall meeting was held in Londonderry, NH on April 15, and Christie plans to make appearances on April 17 and 18 at the First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua.
The town hall will be a “tell it like it is” town hall, according to Samantha Smith, a spokeswoman for Governor Christie’s political action committee, Leadership Matters for America.
“The town hall series are in New Hampshire for now and we could possibly go beyond New Hampshire to talk about why we need real leadership in America,” Smith told NJ.com.
The Governor also has plans to meet with “community leaders to discuss important issues,” according to Smith.
Also present at the summit will be other Republican presidential candidates including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
As the Governor traveled north to New Hampshire, he made stops along the way at a pizzeria, a tavern, and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
It was at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics that the Christie unveiled a list of proposals to curb so-called “entitlements,” such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and disability insurance.
His plan would create a cap for Social Security benefits, partial phase-outs of social security payments for people making more than $80,000 per year in additional income, and eliminate benefits altogether to those making more than $200,000 a year.
The current retirement age would also be raised to 69, while early retirement would be raised to 64. Presently, the retirement age is 67 for those born after 1960.
“Let’s ask ourselves an honest question: Do we really believe that the wealthiest Americans need to take from younger, hard working Americans to receive what, for most of them, is a modest monthly social security check?” the Republican Governor said in the talk, which was critical of federal entitlement programs.
Under his plan, Christie predicted that the growth of entitlements could be reduced by as much as $1 trillion over the next ten years.
“I think, if you look at what I’m proposing, that’s what will preserve Socia lSecurity and Medicare for the people that really need it,” Christie said at his pizza stop in Caesario’s Pizza in Manchester.
When stopping at the Stone Church Meeting House Tavern in the Newmarket, New Hampshire, the Governor took the opportunity to criticize several of President Barack Obama’s policies, including foreign policy “failures” including his dealings with Russia, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and Iran.
“President Barack Obama appears like a man in a dark room, struggling and feeling along the wall for the light switch of leadership,” the Governor said to a crowded room of roughly 75 people.
Squeezed in between the campaign-oriented events in New Hampshire will be the Governor’s 135th official town hall meeting in the Bergen County town of Hasbrouck Heights.
Many of the Governors town halls in New Jersey have led to fierce confrontations, either from disruptions by protestors or verbal show-downs between Christie and members of the public.
The Governor has largely found himself trailing behind other contenders in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, and recent polls show his support in New Jersey dwindling as well.
A recent poll by the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers showed that nearly 70% of New Jersey residents did not think Christie would be a good choice for President.
“Voters who know Gov. Christie best simply do not see him as President,” said the Eagleton Polling Institute Director David Redlawsk.
The poll points out that 44% of respondents felt the Governor’s job performance had worsened, compared to 46% who felt it was the same, and 6% who felt his job as Governor improved.
Another poll by the Eagleton Institute put out last week shows Christie’s disapproval rating increasingly outdo his approval rating among New Jersey voters.
As the Governor ventured out of the state, New Jersey’s police union, the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association (NJSBPA), took issue with Christie’s travel plans.
“It would seem that Governor Christie has deemed it appropriate to travel the country in pursuit of his own career aspirations and political goals rather than stay in New Jersey and work through the significant problems that face our state,” said NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan.
“Unfortunately, for the more than 33,000 members of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association… these self-serving Town Hall meetings at home and out of state aren’t getting us any closer to a resolution to the issue at hand,” Colligan added.
The NJSPBA has long been a vocal critic of Christie and his attemps at reducations to pension and healthcare benefits for the members of his union.
Christie also carries with him the daunting shadow of the ongoing Bridgegate scandal, as well as reports by the New York Times that indictments in the case could be unsealed sometime this month.
U.S Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman has led the investigation on the politically motivated lane closures, and has remained largely quiet about the case since it began 15 months ago.
In January 2014, bits of evidence and rumors emerged to suggest that lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 were part of a politically motivated effort by the Christie’s office to squeeze support from local mayors during that year’s gubernatorial elections.
Members of the Governor’s senior staff could face charges including Bridget Ann Kelley, former Port Authority Official David Wildstein, and possibly even former Port Authority Deputy Director Bill Baroni and former Port Authority executive director David Samson, one of Christie’s closest allies.
David Samson had served as a counsel for Christie’s gubenatorial election campaign, later serving as the Chair of Christie’s Transition Committee.
Any indictments could strike a damaging blow to Christie’s presidential hopes. For his part, Christie has denied any involvement or even knowledge of the lane closures.
The scandal has already resulted in the resignation of multiple Port Authority employees, including Samson, Wildstein, and Baroni, a former Republican State Senator.
Governor Christie has repeatedly asserted that members of his top-level staff, including Bridget Ann Kelley, had orchestrated the lane closures without his knowledge.
The narrative has been used by Democrats, blasting the Governor on the grounds that, even if Christie had no knowledge of the lane closures, he should at least had better oversight of his senior staff.
Award-winning, multimedia journalist with experience in digital first and print-media. Daniel has covered local, state and regional issues, and utilized photography, social media and has written in-depth articles to produce high-quality work.