New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is sharpening his attack on his rivals' qualifications for the presidency, suggesting it would be "the definition of insanity" to elect Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz and expect them to change Washington.
Speaking at a town hall in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Saturday, Christie said there was no reason to think that the pair of first-term Senators would be different from President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 in the middle of his first term.
"You want to vote for a first-term United States Senator again after watching for seven years with a ring-side seat, O.K.," Christie told a crowd of about 150 gathered in a bar. "But don’t expect a different result."
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," he added.
Christie continued that the Senators suffer from the same lack of experience as Obama.
"Let’s put aside our philosophical disagreement with Barack Obama, our philosophical agreement with some of the first-term Senators who are running this time. Put that aside for a second," he said. "What’s the difference now?"
"Let’s not vote for somebody who just gives a good speech but doesn’t have any record to show you that he’ll actually be able to do it. Let’s not make the same mistake again," he continued.
Christie has long made his executive experience central to his argument to voters, but his comments represented an escalation against the two better-polling rivals. "I think I’m much more competent given my experience and background than anybody who’s just had their first-term Senate seat as their experience," he told reporters.
"And let’s remember something: Marco was elected in 2010, he spent a good part of the last year or two not being in the Senate, bragging about not going to the Senate because he says it’s worthless. It’s kind of interesting. I also agree with Marco when he said a week or so ago that Senators and Congressmen can’t fix America’s problems. I agree with Marco."
Christie is betting he can emerge as the leading governor out of Iowa, allowing him to continue to make that contrast deep into the primary season. "If I can be the No. 1 governor coming out of here, I’ll have had a really good night," Christie told reporters in Iowa.
Speaking at a town hall in Le Mars on Sunday, Christie continued the attack, arguing the White House is "not any place for on-the-job training."
Addressing front runner Donald Trump, Christie said business experience alone wasn't a qualification for the White House. "When Donald doesn’t like something that goes wrong, he just looks at the person and says you’re fired," he said. "You can’t fire the majority leader in the Senate."
Christie also encouraged voters to look past their anger and frustration, to vote for someone who can get something done. "The person you vote for must then do things that will actually relieve your anger and frustration," he said.