Christie Hopes to Capitalize on Latest Endorsement

by | November 30, 2015 AT 11:50 AM

By Kimberly Atkins

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will stump in New Hampshire today in an effort to build on the momentum of his endorsement by the New Hampshire Union Leader over the weekend.

Christie has so far failed to break out of the single digits in polling, and was even relegated to the undercard Republican debate early this month.

The newspaper has a spotty record for picking winners. In the 2000 election, the paper backed Steve Forbes, who ultimately dropped out of the race a week after his third-place showing in the New Hampshire primary, despite spending nearly $70 million of his own money in the campaign.

In 2012, the paper backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who came in fourth in the New Hampshire primary and dropped out that April.

"Typically, the endorsement doesn't make a big difference anymore," said former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman and current Democratic National Committee member Kathy Sullivan. "But it may make a little difference in this (GOP) field, because it's so fractured."

But those hoping to see an establishment candidate emerge say the Union Leader could give Christie a boost -- particularly as the race refocuses on national security after the ISIS terror attacks in Paris.

Joseph W. McQuaid, the paper's publisher, said Christie's straight-shooting style and executive experience are needed for the "dangerous times" facing Americans.

"If there's an insider who's an outsider, it's Christie," McQuaid told NBC's "Meet the Press." "He's a Jersey guy who shoots from the lip, but he knows what he's talking about. And I think people are going to buy that."

"It's a huge opportunity," said Fergus Cullen, the former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman who is actively trying to get anti-establishment Donald Trump taken off the New Hampshire ballot.

"This gives Christie the opportunity to get a second and third look from voters and to try to consolidate support from mainstream Republicans," Cullen said. "Now, what he does with that opportunity remains to be seen."

Cullen said Christie can learn from Gingrich, who failed to capitalize on the endorsement the way that Sen. John McCain, the paper's 2008 pick, did. "Gingrich blew it" by not focusing on New Hampshire enough, Cullen said.

"But (the endorsement) was a high point for McCain's campaign, and marked his resurgence. Mitt Romney wanted that endorsement really, really badly."

Today Christie will make the most of it with campaign stops in Portsmouth and Loudon. And if he's lucky, CNN's revised polling eligibility rules could get him back on the main stage for next month's GOP debate.

(c)2015 the Boston Herald