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Will Christie's Retail Strategy In N.H. Pay Off On Primary Day?

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Chris Christie talks one-on-one with Lynn Badger of New Market at a town hall meeting in Epping Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has visited New Hampshire more than 60 times and held dozens of town halls since he first announced he was running. He campaigned here the night of the Iowa Caucus on Monday and the next day he added five more stops through the southern part of the state.

Christie has been banking on a strong finish in New Hampshire and with less than a week to go he's hoping all that face-time will translate to votes next Tuesday. 

For the past nine months Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has been making his pitch to voters on why he’s the best candidate on the Republican ticket.

But with the New Hampshire Primary steadily approaching – this time – Christie is asking a little more from Granite Staters.

“Earlier in the summer I was very happy to be in your top three – you New Hampshire folks use that all the top – ‘oh Governor you are in my top three,’" Christie told the crowd in Epping Tuesday. "Well, that’s great in August, that’s really good. In February, a week beforehand I don’t want to be in your top three anymore, I want to be in your top one.”

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Chris Christie tells voters in Londonderry that he's the Republican candidate that can take on Hillary Clinton come November.

For people who are already in his corner, like Catherine Johnson of Hanover, she advises voters on the fence to come out and see the candidate.

“If you’ve only seen him in a debate environment you owe it to yourself to see him in person,” Johnson said after a Christie event at St. Anselm College in Manchester. So far the Independent voter has seen Christie more than 14 times and as of last week now volunteers for the campaign.

And if you do see him in person, you’ll hear Christie pitch himself, as he has all along, as a governor with the right experience. 

“Just because we agree with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz philosophically much more than we would ever agree with Barack Obama doesn’t mean either of them are ready to be President of the United States because they have never done it,” Christie said at a town hall in Epping.

Christie also asked voters to steer away from Donald Trump, who has been leading in the state polls for months. “Our country is angry about what is going on in Washington D.C. I understand that, so am I. But your vote cannot just be an exercise of anger it must also be an exercise of conscious,” he said. “It’s been an entertaining campaign, believe me I’ve been entertained just as much as you have. It’s been interesting but show time is over, it's game time,” Christie emphasized to voters at each of his stops that day.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
At a "Life of the Party" event at St. Anselm College in Manchester, Chris Christie tells students if elected his first party at the White House would headline Adele and Bon Jovi.

Seeing Christie in person seemed to be enough to sway Republican Joan Loker. Before Christie’s town hall in Londonderry Tuesday night -- Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were her top choices.

But here’s why she says that’s changed: “The caring – that feeling that he cares about people," Loker explained after the event wrapped up. "He’s not just saying it because he wants to be President of the United States, I really feel that he cares about everybody,” Loker said right before she went over to tell Christie that he now has her vote.

But whether Christie can turn enough voters around in time to make a difference come Primary Night - we’ll have to wait and see.

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