Chris Christie’s Retail Stops in Iowa
Brick City Grill opened its doors at 9:30 on a cold Saturday morning in Ames. The reason: Governor Chris Christie finally left New Hampshire to persuade Iowans for a week. This town-hall retail campaign stop on January 16 is the second of many visits he’ll make across Iowa from now until January 18.
The restaurant was packed with a mix of all ages. Some sat at booths, while some stood in anticipation to hear Christie speak. Husbands and wives sipped on coffee and Bloody Marys and discussed their opinions on the presidential candidates. Some college-aged young adults had notepads ready to write down observations from the event–I assumed these were probably students.
So, who’s going to Christie’s retail stops? Based off the turnout of his stop in Ames, he’s speaking to a lot of undecided Republicans, conservatives, and Independents. Christie’s appeal is his “tell it how it is” persona, combined with over eight years of experience as governor. He has Trump’s aggression, but he also shows some competence and ideas that appeal to conservatives. He’s still an underdog, which according to George F. Willi is why his retail stops are effective.
These campaign stops are aimed toward center-right Republicans and blue-collar workers. He is not pushing for the evangelical vote, nor are his ideas considered radical. His speech at Brick City Grill focused on terrorism and his experience with 9/11, where he spoke about his wife’s safety during the attacks. He set an up-close environment for political discussion, as people circled around him to listen and watch him make eye contact with many in the room.
Christie’s town-hall has the attention of Iowans like Marta Bertheren. Beterheren, a caucus-goer since her 20s, is trying to see as many presidential candidates as possible. Christie is the second candidate she’s seen. And, after Jeb Bush, she’s still undecided. “Jeb’s presentation was really good. He’s very articulate. [He’s] very positive, and seems to know a lot about the issue,” Bertheren said.
Among the undecided audience is Mark Hanson and his wife Joan. Hanson places Christie in his top three. “I think Christie is a great leader…He has lots of good ideas. I think he is very direct, and a very formidable opponent against Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination.” Hanson hopes Christie can convince him that he is the right candidate to caucus for.
While Christie isn’t likely to win Iowa, he is making waves and upping his poll numbers. At the end of the event, Christie asked Iowans to caucus for him for what he said was the first time.
Samantha Ohlson, Megan Johns, Skylar Borchardt, and Mackenzie Allison all contributed to this article.