- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump tore into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a Monday stop in New Hampshire, hitting his 2016 GOP rival on President Obama’s visit to the Garden State in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and saying it’s unlikely Mr. Christie didn’t know anything about the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

Mr. Christie famously welcomed Mr. Obama into the state after the storm hit New Jersey toward the tail end of the 2012 presidential campaign.

“I don’t know if it cost him the election, but it cost him a lot of votes,” Mr. Trump said. “And there are many people that think that that endorsement, when Obama went to New Jersey, that that endorsement was responsible for the loss of the Republican party and Romney. I mean, it was certainly not good.”

“When I saw it, I said I think he’s going to vote for Obama,” Mr. Trump said. “Honestly, it was terrible. That was where they had the flood, they had the hurricane and Obama went to New Jersey and…he was like a little child, Christie.”

“I don’t call it a hug - I call it a hug mentally,” he said. “It was unbelievable. He was like a little boy: ‘oh, I’m with the president.’ Remember, he flew in the helicopter and he was all excited to be [on] the helicopter. I said, I would have put you in my helicopter - it’s much nicer.”

Mr. Trump leads in the state with 26.5 percent in the latest Real Clear Politics average on the 2016 GOP field, but Mr. Christie has been on the rise in recent polling and has moved into a tie for third with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas there.

Mr. Trump also said it was unlikely that Mr. Christie didn’t know anything about the 2013 “Bridgegate” incident.

“Just put yourself in a common sense mode,” Mr. Trump told the crowd. “You are with your cabinet. You’re with ‘em all the time. They’re closing the biggest bridge in the United States, the most traveled-on bridge, one of them, in the world…you’re doing that, and you’re not telling the governor. And you’re with him all the time.”

“Does anybody believe that, honestly?” he said. “Is there 1 percent chance?”

Mr. Christie has denied knowledge of the lane closures and has not been charged with wrongdoing in relation to the incident.

Mr. Trump also held up a copy of the New Hampshire Union Leader, which has endorsed Mr. Christie. Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid wrote an editorial in the paper this week that compared Mr. Trump to Biff Tannen, the loudmouthed bully from the “Back to the Future” movies.

He called Mr. McQuaid Mr. Christie’s “lapdog.”

“I just have to tell you - it’s your paper, it’s not a good paper - you know it’s dying,” he said. “I think it’s a very disloyal act when you’re nice to a person. If you endorse Christie, I don’t care. I mean, that’s up to him. But you don’t go and try and hurt somebody that’s been helping you.”

He then tossed the paper into the crowd.

“That’s all it’s worth - piece of garbage,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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