MANCHESTER, N.H. — Chris Christie has a new target: Tim Scott.
The former New Jersey governor is unleashing on Scott over the South Carolina senator’s refusal to blame Donald Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying on television Sunday that he was “disappointed” in Scott and then continuing to drag him during a campaign swing here Monday.
Scott said during an appearance on New Hampshire’s WMUR on Friday, “I don’t hold the former president who didn’t show up at the Capitol and threatened my life as responsible … I can only hold responsible the very people who threatened my life and the former president did not threaten my life.”
By Sunday, Christie — whose campaign is fueled in large part by his furor against Trump — was going directly after Scott.
“I’m disappointed in Tim. That he would be sitting out there saying it’s really not the president’s responsibility. The President invited them there,” Christie told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Christie continued the line of attack in New Hampshire on Monday, using his first trip back to the first primary state in a month to jab at the senator who has leapfrogged him in the polls in his absence.
Christie polled third in several surveys of likely GOP voters in the state following his launch in June. But it was Scott who finished third, with 8 percent support, in a University of New Hampshire survey released last week, behind Trump at 37 percent and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 23 percent. Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum were next, tied with 6 percent apiece.
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Christie accused Scott of “pandering” to Trump supporters who may look elsewhere if indictments continue to pile up against the former president.
“I like Tim a lot. I think Tim is a good man. I don’t have a bad thing to say about him. But he was asked [Sunday] if Donald Trump is responsible for January 6 and he said no,” Christie told dozens of voters packed into a VFW post in Concord on Monday night. “It is disgraceful what [Trump] did that day. And it is disappointing that Tim Scott said what he said.”
A spokesperson for Scott declined to comment.
Christie insists his newfound sniping at Scott is only over his Jan. 6 comments — not a broader “change of strategy” against a rival who appears to be gaining ground in polls and among donors.
“I’m just going to react to whatever he says. I don’t see Tim as any particular threat or not. But when you say the president’s not responsible for January 6, I can’t not say something about that, it’s ridiculous, and Tim’s better than that,” Christie said in response to a POLITICO reporter’s question after a business roundtable in Manchester, N.H.
“It’s no change of strategy or focus on my part. If Tim had never said something that wrong, I would have never brought his name up,” Christie said. “But when he does, nobody should be above scrutiny in this race.”
Still, Trump by far remains Christie’s main target. Christie railed against his former friend in an extended tangent in his stump speech in Concord. And, as he has since entering the race, Christie is keeping up attacks on DeSantis, too. In recent days he’s jabbed at the Florida governor’s education policies, as well as comments DeSantis made about possible corruption within the Justice Department and the FBI.
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