- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2016

DOVER, N.H. — Slipping in polls, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined forces here with Maine Gov. Paul LePage Friday and urged voters to recognize that the GOP needs a battle-tested presidential nominee — not a “shiny new penny” — to face off against Hillary Clinton on the debate stage in the general election.

“Everybody, remember something, you better have someone who is tested and ready to go on that stage,” Mr. Christie said during a campaign stop at the Strafford Farms Restaurant. “You do not want to be sitting there next September will all your hopes in a shiny new penny — and all of a sudden you watch Hillary Clinton run over that person like they are not even there.

“We got to be ready for it,” Mr. Christie said, alluding to Mrs. Clinton, who is running against Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders in the Democratic nomination race. “I am ready. I have been tested.

“I have been pushed. I have been shoved. I have been knocked down and gotten back up,” he said. “And that’s what you want, not only in a candidate for president, that’s what you want in a president, who is ready for the tough moments to come.”

Mr. Christie has logged more time in New Hampshire than most of his GOP presidential rivals and is betting that will pay off in Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary.

At campaign stops, Mr. Christie is warning voters against nominating a first-term senators, taking particular aim at Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has emerged as a major threat to his presidential prospects.

Mr. Rubio has received a bounce in the state following his stronger-than-expected third-place showing in Iowa, which has convinced voters looking for an “establishment” candidate — the same people Mr. Christie is wooing — to give him a second look.

Mr. Christie faces an uphill climb, according to a NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll released Friday that showed businessman Donald Trump leading the field and his closest rival Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida by a 30 percent to 17 percent margin.

They are followed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (15 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (10 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (9 percent) and Mr. Christie (4 percent).

Standing beneath a sign that read “Beer is Proof that God Loves Us and Wants Us to Be Happy,” Mr. LePage introduced Mr. Christie, saying “his friend” has made the “tough” decisions as a governor and saying he has the skills needed to pare down the national debt and “protect” the nation’s military.

“I see no better person than Chris Christie who has been tried and proven to be a true leader,” Mr. LePage said.

Guy Carpano, of Dover, said that he values executive experience, and is torn between voting for Mr. Christie, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kasich.

“The rest of them have a lot of hot air, but I don’t think they have the experience behind it,” Mr. Carpano, 72, said. “I don’t think they make the hard decisions.”

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