Trump unleashes a tirade against Christie: He 'can't win because of his past'

By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 28, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a copy of The Union Leader during a rally in Nashua, N.H., on Monday night

 

TRENTON — Donald Trump on Monday night unleashed a new set of blistering attacks on Gov. Chris Christie, one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, at one point saying the New Jersey governor "can't win because of his past."

Trump, the former Atlantic City casino mogul who has been leading the GOP race for months, made the comments during an interview with a television station in New Hampshire, the state that hosts the nation's first presidential primary. Though Trump holds a strong lead in the state, Christie has been rising in the polls there. 

The billionaire businessman continued the onslaught during a rally later in the night in Nashua, N.H., saying Christie shouldn't spend so much time campaigning in New Hampshire when New Jersey's economy is suffering.

"We love New Hampshire, but he shouldn't be up here all the time," Trump told the crowd. "He's supposed to be running the state."

A spokeswoman for Christie's campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday night.

The remarks came hours after the Union Leader — the New Hampshire newspaper that endorsed Christie for president last month — ran an editorial in which its publisher, Joseph McQuaid, urged voters in the state not to vote for Trump.

McQuaid called the real estate mogul and former reality TV star "a crude blowhard with no clear political philosophy" and compared him to Biff Tannen, the villain from the "Back to the Future" movie series. 

Trump responded by slamming McQuaid during the interview on WMUR, calling him  "a real lowlife" who had asked him for favors in the past. The businessman suggested McQuaid is Christie's "puppet" and the governor pulled his strings to publish the piece.

"This is the way Chris is," Trump said. "I know Chris very well. I've known him a long time. He's the one that got McQuaid to do this. There's no question in my mind."

At the rally, Trump referred to McQuaid as "Christie's lap dog."

McQuaid told the New York Times after Trump's interview that he was "very upset I wasn't called a loser."

"The man lies like a rug," the publisher told the newspaper.

McQaid also told WMUR that the allegation Christie called for the editorial was "nonsense."

"Anybody who knows the Union Leader knows we say what we believe and nobody tells us what to do, neither Governor Christie nor Donald Trump or anybody else," he told the station.

Trump added that the Union Leader never should have endorsed Christie for three reasons: because New Jersey is "the worst state in the union in terms of economics;" because the governor likely knew about the lane closings at the center of the George Washington Bridge scandal despite his claims that he didn't; and because of his infamous embrace of President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"It's ridiculous to back Chris," Trump told WMUR.

Trump and Christie have called each other friends for years. But Monday's attack was the second time in weeks that Trump went after the governor, one of the 12 opponents running against him for the 2016 GOP nomination. 

The businessman unleashed a similar attack on Christie on Dec. 7 after the governor blasted Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslims entering the U.S. to protect the country against possible terrorism. 

During Monday's interview, Trump said New Jersey is "a disaster" in terms of its economy. 

Later, at the rally, he told the crowd that the state's taxes "are through the roof."

"I know you're happy he's up here," Trump said of Christie, who has spent much of his time on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. "But, you know, the people of New Jersey want to throw him out of office."

New Jersey has among the highest property taxes in the nation and the state's credit has been downgraded nine times during Christie's tenure. Meanwhile, the governor's approval rating in New Jersey has dropped to record lows — in the 30s — in recent polls.

Still, Christie has noted that the Garden State was in worse shape before he took over and that he has helped curb property tax increases. He has also touted that over the last six years, New Jersey has seen 225,000 new private sector jobs.

EYEING BRIDGEGATE AGAIN

On Monday, Trump repeated that Christie must have known in advance about the lane closings at the center of the Bridgegate scandal.

"Chris can't win because of his past," Trump told WMUR during Monday's interview. "I don't believe you've heard the last of the George Washington Bridge, because there's no way he didn't know about the closure of the George Washington Bridge. And all of his people are now going on trial in the very near future. And they're going on criminal trial. There's no way he didn't know about it."

During the rally, Trump asked the crowd if they believed Christie wasn't aware of the closings.

"Does anybody believe that? Honestly?" he asked. "Is there a 1 percent chance?"

A former Christie aide and one of his appointees to the Port Authority face federal charges over their alleged roles in the lane closings at the nation's busiest bridge more than two years ago. Another Port Authority official has pleaded guilty. 

The officials are accused of closing lanes at the bridge in September 2013, causing days of heavy traffic in Fort Lee, in a political payback scheme because the town's Democratic mayor declined to endorse Christie for re-election. 

Christie, however, has repeatedly said he was not involved in the closings and stressed that he has not been implicated in investigations by federal authorities or state lawmakers. The governor was also cleared in an internal report issued by a law firm he hired to look into the issue. 

TARGETING THE OBAMA EMBRACE

Finally on Monday, Trump once again blasted Christie for openly welcoming and praising Obama when the president toured New Jersey's destruction from Sandy in the fall of 2012.

Many Republicans blame Christie's embrace for helping Obama beat GOP challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, which was held a few days later.

"He was so warm and so happy to have Barack Obama in the state of New Jersey that I personally think it could have cost Romney the election," Trump told WMUR on Monday.

"I actually thought that Christie was going to vote for Obama based on that little episode," he added. 

During the rally, Trump said while Christie's embrace may not have technically been a "hug," it was a "hug mentally,"

"It was unbelievable," the businessman said of the governor. "He was like a little boy: 'Oh, I'm with the president.'"

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