Chris Christie Wins Major Endorsement in Presidential Race

WASHINGTON  (Reuters) -

Republican Chris Christie has won the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, a major conservative publication in an important early voting state, picking up steam in the Nov. 2016 presidential election.

Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid said on Sunday he believed Christie, the New Jersey governor, was the candidate who could “take the fight to” Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as well as confront the threat posed by Islamic State.

“Americans seem to be fed up with Washington, and they’re looking for somebody who speaks with the ‘bark off,’ as we say in New Hampshire. And I think Christie does that,” he said on NBC.

The high-profile endorsement comes as a possible life raft for the New Jersey governor, who has struggled to connect to a national electorate in early opinion polls.

Among Republicans polled nationwide, only 4 percent said they would back Christie for the party’s nomination, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll ended on Nov. 27.

McQuaid said that nominees for the coveted endorsement came down to three governors in the congested Republican field: Christie, Jeb Bush of Florida and John Kasich of Ohio. Ultimately, however, McQuaid did not see the two other candidates as electable, citing Bush’s perceived reluctance on the campaign trail for the paper’s decision not to support.

“Jeb Bush doesn’t look like he wants it, and the public senses that,” he said. “I’m looking for somebody who can get the nomination, and I don’t think either Bush or Kasich can do so.”

Voters in New Hampshire cast some of the nation’s first ballots in the primary season, so the paper’s endorsement marks a major win for the outspoken former U.S. attorney.

Still, despite the prominence of the Union Leader, the paper’s endorsement is not always reflective of a wider trend of support.

In 2012, the publication endorsed Republican Newt Gingrich for the party’s nomination, which Gingrich ultimately lost to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Reuters’ five-day rolling average sample size ranged from 464 to 347 respondents between Nov. 22 and Nov. 27, with a credibility interval of 5.2 to 6.1 percentage points.