|Christie Winds Down Campaign in Show of Unity|
|By JEFF ZELENY (@jeffzeleny) and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE (@shushwalshe)||Nov 4, 2013, 7:05 PM|
UNION CITY, N.J. - At his final campaign rally on the eve of his likely re-election, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie smiled Monday when asked about his future.
"The polls are great. I'm happy about them," Christie told ABC News. "Believe me, I'd rather be up than down."
A strong finish today, his supporters and strategists believe, will help advance any 2016 presidential aspirations. He demurred when directly asked about a race for the White House, but did not try to knock down the notion.
"You know what I say? I've got an election tomorrow night," Christie told ABC News. "I've got to govern this state. Whatever the future brings it will bring. But first things first here."
Campaign stops Monday included his rally in Union City, an event designed to win over Hispanic voters and to send a message that the future of the Republican Party rests partly on improving its image among Latino voters.
"It's important to the future of our country. We've got to bring people together," Christie said in a brief interview. "Seeing a crowd like this and their enthusiasm is great news for our country. We're going to bring people together."
He campaigned with Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico at his side. In Spanish, she urged the crowd to support his re-election bid. She said the GOP's future depended upon governors, a veiled swipe at members of Congress and Tea Party leaders.
"We have to be able to compromise," Martinez told ABC News. "In Washington, they're not even talking to each other."
Hundreds of supporters cheered his arrival in Union City, where the crowd filled a city street and stretched down the block. It wasn't the size of the rally that delighted Christie, but rather the diversity, with Latin music, Spanish signs that read "Yo Apoya a Christie El Gobernador," and enthusiastic supporters in Democratic-heavy terrain.
"We have one more challenge in front of us for 2013," Christie told the crowd. "That challenge left is to prove all the folks, all the folks who will say that we can't come together and work together, who say we can't do things together regardless of party we have to prove all those people across the country and across New Jersey wrong."
To cheers from the crowd, Christie then asked, "Are you ready to prove them wrong tomorrow?"
The Garden State governor said he wants to send a "shock wave through the state of New Jersey" today. He's hoping to win by the largest percentage since Republican Tom Kean -- Christie's own political mentor -- won in 1985 with a historic margin: 71 percent to 24 percent. Christie could be the first Republican candidate statewide to win more than 50 percent of the vote since 1988.
In a poll out Monday, Christie maintained his 2-to-1 lead, besting state Sen. Barbara Buono 61 to 33 percent among likely voters, according to the survey from Quinnipiac University. In the poll, Christie even gets 30 percent of Democrats in the state, to Buono's 64 percent.
When asked whether tonight's rally was the "beginning of a 2016 partnership" between Martinez and Christie, Martinez, who is also named as a rising star in the party, said no. Instead, she said she was just "making sure that Gov. Christie gets elected by a big margin tomorrow."
Martinez will stay on the stump with Christie through today when he wraps up his seven-day, 46-stop bus tour throughout the state.
He will vote in his hometown of Mendham in the morning before attending his election night party in famous Asbury Park. Christie is an admitted super fan of Asbury Park's own Bruce Springsteen, but his love has been largely unrequited over the years.