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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Chris Christie lectures Marco Rubio on ‘truancy’ at debate

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie points toward Sen.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie points toward Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) beside Ben Carson at the Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Credit: AP / David Goldman

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proved on Saturday that he won’t go down without a sneer.

Showing single-digit support going into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, the crusty Christie sank his rhetorical teeth into the leg of Sen. Marco Rubio, his better-polling Republican rival, during an ABC News debate.

“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” Christie lectured the first-term lawmaker from Florida. Christie, 53, said Rubio, 44, showed “truancy” on legislation he sponsored, mocked him as scripted, and claimed that — unlike accountable governors such as himself — senators generally “think about what kind of speech can I give, or what kind of bill can I drop.”

Not that Christie would limit his disdain to one competitor. He slammed Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine’s tax on wealthy state residents, joined in the criticism of President Barack Obama as weak, and boasted as before that he stood up to legislators and teachers’ unions.

Since Rubio ran strongly in Iowa last week, his efforts to fend off attacks from Christie and others drew big attention. Perhaps less noticed were his knocks on the New Jersey governor, who has indicated he’d contemplate dropping out if the Granite State scorns him.

“Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago,” Rubio said. “You didn’t even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign.”

If voters crush Christie, it will mark the second failure this season by a northeastern Republican with a governor’s credentials. New York’s George Pataki came and went, largely unnoticed. Real estate magnate Donald Trump could end up the region’s only celebrity standing on the GOP side, with his own future far from settled.

‘BRIDGEGATE’ EMAILS: In an unrelated development, two indicted former New Jersey officials on Friday won a judge’s approval to obtain emails gathered by the law firm Christie hired to investigate the so-called Bridgegate scandal.

To the superstitious, that could mean a bad omen for Christie.


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