Chris Christie: ‘I’m A Mercenary’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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BETHESDA, Md. — Chris Christie says his gig leading the Republican Governors Association is like being a professional soldier who hops from war to war.

“I’m a mercenary in this job,” the New Jersey governor said Tuesday morning, while campaigning inside a pancake house with Maryland’s Republican gubernatorial candidate. “I go to places where we can win.”

Christie was making the point that Republican Larry Hogan can actually beat Democratic nominee Anthony Brown despite running in this deeply-blue state.

But his comments also made a larger point about himself. Like a mercenary, Christie gets handsomely paid for fighting someone else’s war.

“I think he’d make a terrific president,” Hogan, the Republican candidate, told reporters of Christie. “I can’t think of anybody whose done a better job as governor.”

Christie chairs the RGA so he can build goodwill with Republicans running for governor all over the country. The group pays for his travel, and he’s able to cut checks on behalf of the RGA for Republicans. Other than Maryland, Christie is campaigning this week in New Jersey, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois and Michigan.

His efforts today might pay off in two years.

But while it’s assumed he’s likely to run for president, Christie claims he doesn’t know if he is going to actually do it.

“The fact is, I’m not going to think about that until the beginning part of next year,” Christie said inside the restaurant. “I’m going to be in 18 states in the month of October. From here, I’m going to Illinois and Michigan today. So I got a lot of work to do in the next 14 days to help elect as many Republicans into governor seats as I can, so I won’t waste any time thinking about that until later.”

“No question I will think about it,” Christie added. “But I haven’t made any decision.”

After shaking hands with patrons inside the Original Pancake House, Christie was asked what he can teach Hogan about a Republican winning in a blue state.

“It can happen,” Christie said. “I mean, listen. You know, you’ll have all kinds of people in the last couple weeks of the race in a tough state like this demographically who will tell you that it can’t happen. And I’m here to show people I’m living proof it can not only happen once but it can happen twice. It’s all about what kind of job you do as a candidate, and what kind of job you do as a governor.”

Hogan’s challenge of running as a Republican in a blue state was on display during the visit Tuesday as he repeatedly dodged questions about the recent endorsement of his campaign by the NRA. Hogan’s campaign denies actively soliciting the endorsement, while Brown’s campaign is hoping it will turn off anti-gun voters in the state.

“You know, we’re really focused on the governor’s visit here today,” Hogan said when asked about the NRA. “We’re happy to have his support. It’s great that the Republican Governors Association believes in this race. We’ve got several recent polls that show it to be a tie. And we’re thrilled to be here this morning.”

The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Brown, who did a joint appearance with President Obama last weekend, up by 11 points. But Hogan’s campaign says the race is much closer.

Speaking again about Christie, Hogan said: “I tell you what, with his help, I actually believe the biggest upset in the country is going to be right here in Maryland.”

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