Chris Christie: first-term senators don’t make good presidents

 Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a town hall style campaign stop, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Pinardville Fire Station in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a town hall style campaign stop, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Pinardville Fire Station in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Locked in a tight battle for second place in New Hampshire, Chris Christie delivered a warning Wednesday to voters here: Don’t nominate another first-term senator.

“The U.S. Senate is like school – they tell you where to go, what time to show up, what kind of questions you’re going to get,” Christie told voters at a packed firehouse in Goffstown, N.H. “That’s not the way it works when you’re a governor, I can tell you; the issues come at you from every direction at all hours of the day and the night.”

Christie’s remarks are a not-so-veiled swipe at Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two rising contenders for the GOP nomination. He’s battling in particular with Rubio in New Hampshire, the state where Christie has pinned his presidential hopes. Christie’s pitch centers on his executive experience as governor of New Jersey and a former U.S. attorney. He says voters should have learned a lesson from electing President Barack Obama, who was in his first term in the Senate when he ran in 2008.

“When the American people elected (Obama), they knew he had never run anything bigger than a 30-person Senate staff,” Christie said. “We as a country put him in charge of the largest, most complex government the world has ever known, and we wonder why things aren’t working the right way.”

Once thought a long-shot for the GOP nomination, Christie has seen his stock rise in New Hampshire as voters search for an alternative to Donald Trump, who continues to dominate preference polls in the first primary state. Christie casts himself as a battle-tested governor who can take on threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations and often questions whether the rest of the candidates possess the experience to make tough decisions.

He’ll join six other candidates, including Rubio and Cruz, on stage Thursday night for the next Republican primary debate. But he told voters to be thinking furth er ahead, to when the Republican nominee is on stage debating Hillary Clinton. If an untested candidate makes it to that stage, Christie said, Clinton will “eat you alive.”

“She will pat some people on the head and cut their hearts out,” he said. “Let me guarantee you one thing: She won’t do that to a guy from New Jersey.”

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