“Can I introduce [Gov. John] Kasich?” joked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during the awkward start to the final Republican Presidential debate prior to the February 9 New Hampshire primary.
But Christie might have been better off if Kasich had never set foot on the stage that night, because just a few days later, it was Kasich celebrating a surprising second-place and Christie finishing near the bottom of the pack for the second time in as many weeks.
On February 10, Christie announced he was suspending his Presidential campaign, one that officially began in June 2015, and had been talked about for years.
Christie was once though to be the frontrunner for the party’s nomination, but his reputation was badly damaged by the “Bridgegate” scandal that has three of his one-time allies facing criminal charges, including one who pleaded guilty to abusing his power by shutting down several lanes to the nation’s largest bridge to purposely cause traffic jams.
Though Christie was widely credited with hurting the campaign of Senator Marco Rubio as the two bickered on stage in the final debate, the Senator still earned more votes than Christie in New Hampshire.
The two men had been fighting for weeks about who had been missing in action more in their respective jobs, due to their campaign responsibilities.
“Your state had a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn’t even want to go back,” Rubio said, drawing a mixed reaction from the crowd. “They had to shame you into going back, and then you stayed there for 36 hours, and then he left and came back here to campaign.”
Christie also praised Kasich that night, rather than criticizing him when given an opportunity by the debate moderators.
New York real estate developer Donald Trump ultimately prevailed in the New Hampshire election, but Kasich’s strong showing made him the biggest surprise.
Christie had set his goal for New Hampshire: to beat the other candidates with experience as a Governor (Kasich & Jeb Bush), making an argument that only a person with public-sector executive experience would be a suitable candidate for the Republican Party.
But despite making New Hampshire practically his second home, holding 76 Town Halls in the Granite State, Christie finished in sixth place with just 7% of the vote:
- Donald Trump – 100,406 (35%)
- John Kasich – 44,909 (16%)
- Ted Cruz – 33,189 (12%)
- Jeb Bush – 31,310 (11%)
- Marco Rubio – 30,032 (11%)
- Chris Christie – 21,069 (7%)
- Carly Fiorina – 11,706 (4%)
- Ben Carson – 6,509 (2%)
Christie, whose campaign has been wounded by his own numerous gaffes, had an even more disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses, which are substantially different from primary elections.
One week earlier, it was Texas Senator Ted Cruz who came out on top in Iowa. Christie was not expected to be a contender, but he finished in tenth place.
“Winning is never easy,” said Christie after congratulating Trump on his win in New Hampshire.