NASHUA, N.H. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Tuesday night that he would reassess his campaign after a disappointing sixth place finish in the New Hampshire primary, which had been central to his presidential ambitions.
Christie told supporters he will be returning to New Jersey to evaluate the campaign's next chapter as he awaits the final vote tally. Going into Tuesday, he had been vowing to press on to South Carolina.
"Mary Pat and I have decided to go home to New Jersey and take a deep breath," said Christie. "By tomrrow morning, tomorrow afternoon we will see how it goes and see how we move forward in this race."
Christie spent more time than any other candidate in New Hampshire, but he struggled to carve out a niche in the crowded field.
"We came here to say that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters, and that it will always matter leading our nation," Christie told supporters. "That message was heard by a lot of folks, and it was stod for by alot of folks here in New Hampshire. Just not enough, not enough tonight. And that's okay."
Voters who wanted somebody from a new generation of Republicans could look toward Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Those seeking executive governing experience in a swing state had Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to choose from, both of whom also dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to the Granite State. And for those who wanted somebody with a tough guy image and a reputation of speaking his mind, Donald Trump sucked up all the oxygen.
Though he gained some traction toward the end of last year, he began to fade in January, and wasn't ultimately helped by an aggressive campaign against Rubio in the final weeks, the highlight of which was his attacks on the Florida senator during last Saturday night's debate for making repetitive statements.
It represented quite a climb down for Christie's political career. First elected in 2009, he quickly gained a fan base for viral YouTube videos showing him confronting public sector union members, which provided a boost of adrenalin to conservatives at a time when they were demoralized as President Obama and congressional Democrats pushed through a sweeping liberal agenda.
By 2011, some people were pushing him to run for president, which he declined to do, saying he wasn't ready. By the following year, however, he started falling more out of favor with conservatives. They weren't happy with his embrace of President Obama during Hurricane Sandy just before the 2012 election.
In 2013, while running for re-election, he agreed to expand Medicaid through Obamacare. And shortly after winning a landslide re-election, he was ensnarled in a controversy over the shutdown of lanes in the George Washington Bridge, eroding his approval ratings at home.
By the time he entered the presidential race, he was an underdog, so he staked his hopes on performing well here, where voters have a tradition of rewarding candidates who put in the time to openly engage them in town hall meetings. But it was not to be.