DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Chris Christie promised Thursday to spend a lot more time in Iowa as the leadoff presidential caucuses draw closer, signaling a shift for the New Jersey governor after months of focusing on New Hampshire.
Christie, who has struggled to gain traction in the 2016 Republican primary, has so far devoted most of his time and resources to New Hampshire, an early voting state that usually favors fiscal conservative candidates as opposed to religious conservatives who typically do well in Iowa. But in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press, Christie said he would split his campaign time evenly between the two states going forward.
His campaign also said he is beefing up his Iowa operation with two additional staffers and his first official office, which will soon open in suburban Des Moines.
"Now that we've got 100 days to go, and we're really in the stretch where people I believe are going to pay attention, you'll see me here plenty," Christie told the AP as he campaigned in Iowa's capital city.
While he does not focus on social issues as often as some of his Republican rivals, Christie has strong Iowa connections.
He recently won support from six of the seven Iowa Republicans who flew to New Jersey four years ago to urge him to run in the 2012 presidential contest. He also has a close relationship with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. But so far, Christie's has been in the low single digits in early state polls.
He said there is still time to change minds: "It's 100 plus days to the caucuses and they're still shopping."
Christie's fundraising lags behind many of his competitors', while his campaign has been spending at a significant clip.
He said he's traveling the country raising money and has a "pretty lean staff," so he's not concerned about having the resources to compete. While he has not aired television ads in Iowa to date, he said he expected to, though he declined to offer details.