Mary Pat Christie is a regular presence on the campaign trail, typically playing a supporting role to her husband, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, by smiling at his side and mingling with supporters at events as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination.
But with Christie hitting pause on his latest swing through New Hampshire to return to New Jersey for a massive nor'easter, his wife is now taking the reins.
“We decided to pull an audible and put me in charge of a couple of the meet-and-greets,” New Jersey’s first lady told ABC News on Friday night in Lebanon, New Hampshire after her first day campaigning in her husband’s place.
Mary Pat Christie was quick to say she's "not in charge" of the campaign but with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary fast approaching, she has absorbed the majority of her husband’s busy campaign schedule as her own and is stumping and fielding on-the-spot questions from voters.
On Friday, she held two solo events after the governor began his drive back to New Jersey in the early afternoon, and today, she is filling her husband’s shoes for four more events.
And there is perhaps no better prepared understudy for her husband.
“I've heard a lot of what his answers are and certainly I know what his policies are and I know him,” Mary Pat Christie said. “It’s really not nerve-wracking,”
Having sat through nearly all of her husband’s roughly 50 town hall meetings in the Granite State, Mary Pat Christie has even worked some of her husband’s reliable punch lines into her own repertoire, encouraging voters to go to his campaign website to read his policy proposals. That is if they need something to help them fall asleep at night.
And when she gets a question she doesn’t feel comfortable answering?
“I can certainly punt and let the big guy answer when he gets back up,” Christie said.
After explaining her husband’s broad opposition to Syrian refugees entering the country because of concerns about inadequate vetting, she encouraged the man to come to one of his town halls next week.
“He has done over 50 of these town halls, which are over two hours in length, so bring your crackers and snacks,” she joked.
Most other questions, however, she answered with ease, like when a man asked her what she would make as her initiative as first lady if her husband heads to the White House.
“There’s no doubt what I would do,” she began. “I really think that our veterans are not being taken care of, whether they’re suffering from mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction. We’re not doing what we should on a national level.”