New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday the same person who was supposedly telling former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to attack Sen. Marco Rubio is now directing Mr. Rubio to launch attacks on Mr. Christie.
“Listen, I just think it’s kind of funny that the guy who very righteously stood up on the stage and lectured Jeb Bush saying, ‘someone must have told you that attacking me would help you,’ apparently the same person now must be talking to Marco and telling him that attacking me will help him,” Mr. Christie said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Mr. Christie was referring to the third GOP presidential debate in October, when Mr. Bush hit Mr. Rubio over the Florida senator’s attendance record in the U.S. Senate.
“Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work,” Mr. Bush had said.
Mr. Rubio responded by saying he didn’t remember Mr. Bush complaining about Sen. John McCain’s voting record when Mr. McCain was campaigning for president in 2008.
“The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” Mr. Rubio said.
As the presidential voting contests in Iowa and New Hampshire approach, Mr. Rubio and his allies have been ratcheting up attacks in recent days on both Mr. Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, two of Mr. Rubio’s main 2016 GOP rivals.
For example, Conservative Solutions PAC, an outside group backing Mr. Rubio, has released an ad saying Mr. Christie “could well be Obama’s favorite Republican governor,” pointing out his past support for Common Core education standards and saying he supported “liberal energy policies.”
Mr. Christie said the focus needs to be on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“We’re just going to continue to do what we do out here and make sure that everyone understands that this is about beating Hillary Clinton and that’s what we’re going to do,” Mr. Christie said.
“Let me tell you, this isn’t my first rodeo, as you know,” he said. “Jon Corzine spent $33 million in negative ads against me in 2009. A lot of these guys have never been in a tough race. This is just another day at the ranch for me.”
The Christie campaign put out its own ad Wednesday, to run in New Hampshire, that hits on a similar theme on Mrs. Clinton and tells Republicans to “keep your eye on the ball.”
“Marco Rubio is Attacking Governor Chris Christie,” reads text in the ad, which cuts to a recent clip of Mr. Christie saying that any significant division within the GOP is going to lead to Mrs. Clinton’s election.
“This country cannot afford that outcome, and thus we Republicans have a duty — I believe a profound, moral duty — to work together,” Mr. Christie says in the ad.