MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a break from the road on Monday morning to lend a hand to another Republican from his state, who is fighting an uphill battle for a U.S. Senate seat.
Christie, who has been campaigning for Republicans across the country in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, joined the lesser-known Jeff Bell at a northern New Jersey diner. Bell, a policy analyst, is running against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the former Newark mayor who won a special election last year to finish the state term of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Christie greeted supporters and criticized incumbent Booker for agreeing only to a single debate.
“I’ve been very disappointed that there haven’t been more debates in this race. Frankly, you know, people have the right to hear the candidates side-by-side making their case. And more than just once,” said Christie, who has long had a close relationship with Booker.
“You shouldn’t be, you know, playing four corners and trying to run out the clock,” Christie said.
Booker, meanwhile, brushed off the criticism following an event in nearby Union.
“I’m glad the governor and I have had such a great, successful working relationship over these years. I look forward to continuing it as a full-term United States senator,” he said. A campaign spokeswoman added they were satisfied that a planned WABC/WPVI/League of Women Voters/Univision debate would reach a wide audience and “expose New Jersey voters to the clear choices they have before them.”
Christie, who was set to travel to Kansas and Colorado after the event, said he’d be spending 11 of the next 15 days on the road but is planning more campaigning with local candidates when he’s home.
Bell has received no support from the national Republican Party. “They just haven’t done a thing and haven’t even talked to us, haven’t even returned our calls,” he said. He thanked Christie for going “the extra mile” to help him out.
“He has helped me in every way that he could, given a very difficult schedule of going out of state as head of the Republican Governors Association,” Bell said.
A Monmouth University Poll released this month showed Bell trailing Booker by 15 points and found Bell’s signature issue, having the U.S. dollar backed by the gold standard, has little traction among the state’s voters. Few say they have heard of it.
Even Christie told reporters, “I haven’t given any deep thought to it.”
“In New Jersey, it’s not something that I have to deal with every day,” he added. “That’s why I’m not running for the United States Senate, and Jeff is.”
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