Christie plans town hall events in NH

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2015 4:49 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is taking his signature town hall events on the road.

The potential Republican presidential contender will hold a "Tell it like it is" town hall meeting in Londonderry, N.H., April 15, and is expected to do another two days later, in Nashua, as part of a series of events in the early voting state.

He'll have "an honest and direct conversation about why America needs real leadership," said Samantha Smith, speaking for his political action committee.

The visits will mark Christie's first extended swing this year in New Hampshire, where his blunt style might play well. Christie appears to be having trouble gaining traction with the public and donors in the early stages of the party's 2016 contest with many likely rivals.

The town-hall format is deeply familiar to Christie, whose office says he's held over 130 of them governor, including one every week since he came out with his budget plans in February.

His events, which have generated many moments made for YouTube, are typically slickly produced, with music blasting as the governor enters an auditorium filled with a largely friendly crowd. After the governor delivers an extended monologue on a topic of his choosing, he launches into a well-practiced set of rules that includes instructing questioners to keep their queries brief and warning them against grandstanding for the cameras.

He then takes off his jacket, tosses it to an aide and jumps into a question-and-answer session that can go on for more than an hour.

Such events are expected to be a cornerstone of a Christie campaign if he chooses to go forward.

Steve Duprey, a New Hampshire Republican committeeman and former adviser to 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, said he's been advising potential contenders to hold town halls in the state early and often. McCain did as many as five a day in his campaign.

Duprey said New Hampshire voters expect to get to know their candidates, asking questions as well as follow ups.

"They want to get a sense of who you are, how you handle authentic questions, and how you respond to people with real problems," he said.

New Hampshire voters may not be as "edgy" as voters in New Jersey, he added, "but we're as persistent, if not more so."