Press Release - ICYMI - The Washington Post: In New Hampshire, No One Does Town Halls Quite Like Chris Christie
In New Hampshire, no one does town halls quite like Chris Christie
The Washington Post
The art of the town hall is part of the lore and legend of New Hampshire's presidential politics. Everybody has to do them. New Hampshire voters demand it. In the contest for the Republican nomination, no one does them quite like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Marco Rubio does them. Ted Cruz does them. John Kasich, who needs New Hampshire as much as Christie, does them. Jeb Bush does them. Carly Fiorina does them. But not since Sen. John McCain of Arizona used town halls to upset then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 primary here, and then again to resurrect his candidacy in 2008, has a candidate tried to burrow into the Granite State in quite the way Christie is doing.
Tuesday marked Christie's 50th day in the state. In that time, he's done three dozen town-hall meetings, often accompanied by his wife, Mary Pat. He claimed on Monday night he's been in the state more days than any other candidate and joked that his wife probably has recorded the second-most.
Town halls can be held almost anywhere — VFW posts, schools auditoriums or gymnasiums, restaurants. Sometimes they are in living rooms, which on winter evenings in towns like Keene or Epping, with a light snow falling outside, create an atmosphere of intimacy between candidate and voters that is rare in politics today.
On Monday night, the venue for Christie's town hall was another classic of the genre, the firehouse, in this case the Loudon Fire Department. At one end was an antique fire truck, Engine 2, complete with wooden ladders. At the other end was a more modern fire truck. In between, several hundred people were seated in folding chairs, their cars spilling out of the available parking lot to line both sides of the highway.
The heart of any good town hall is the question-and-answer period. Christie revels in the Q&A. He loves the banter and the give and take. Like McCain, he's willing to use barbed humor that might mildly offend some or even everyone in the audience in order to woo them all.
On Monday night, he joked about the size of the New Hampshire House, which has more than 400 members, more than any other state in the country. In New Hampshire, they're a dime a dozen, he suggested, more than enough for every candidate to claim the support of lots of elected officials.
To anyone in the state who suggests that they feel politically powerless in a world of big money and super PACs, Christie has a message: Stop whining. "Man, if New Hampshire feels voiceless, imagine how Montana feels," he said to laughter.
On Monday, he closed with an additional note: a reminder that the period of introduction by the candidates is now over. Now, he said, it's game time.
He joked that voters here are well schooled to make candidates feel good by telling them they are on a list of their three contenders. "I don't want to be in your top three anymore," Christie said. "It's time to get to business. I want your vote on Feb. 9."
There will be many more town-hall meetings in New Hampshire between now and early February — especially by the candidates, such as Christie, who see them as the path to victory or, at a minimum, political survival. They are part of the ritual of New Hampshire politics, an unpredictable rite of passage for the candidates — and for the voters, wonderful live theater on any given night of the week.
Chris Christie, Press Release - ICYMI - The Washington Post: In New Hampshire, No One Does Town Halls Quite Like Chris Christie Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/311683