GOFFSTOWN, New Hampshire—The Straight Talk Express has returned to New Hampshire, except with a different conductor: Chris Christie. Like John McCain in 2008, the New Jersey governor is holding lengthy town halls, sounding an unmistakably aggressive note on fighting terror overseas, and bluntly calling for radical reforms to entitlements, the tax code, and education at home as he seeks to make a miraculous comeback from the political doldrums.
Any Christie comeback will need to happen in the Granite State, which the governor has all but made a second home since exploring a presidential campaign. On Monday, he made his ninth visit to the state, where he attended a freewheeling town hall at a local pub, appeared at a supporter's home for a house party, and the next morning headlined the business-centric Politics and Eggs breakfast. He received an enthusiastic reception at all three stops, with over 100 attendees packing into the Village Trestle pub to press Christie. At the pub, a banner promoting his appearance read: "Real. Honest. Direct. Tell It Like It Is."
Most significantly, he staked out space as one of the most hawkish candidates in the field, choosing to focus entirely on national security in his 15-minute remarks Tuesday to a Chamber of Commerce crowd usually more interested in talking about fiscal issues. The day before, Christie slammed Republicans who opposed renewal of the Patriot Act—singling out Rand Paul by name for harming the country's defenses. "I will guarantee what they did in D.C. last week is making the U.S. weaker and more vulnerable. And they did it because of politics," Christie thundered. "If you listen to Senator Paul and Senator [Mike] Lee and these other guys down in Washington, you'd think I'm listening to the calls of your mother—that operatives at the NSA are listening to your phone calls. We don't [do that]! But yet you're taking this tool away."