Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began his return to the national political stage with an opening message: ‘Go big.’

Christie began a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire by listing leaders from the founders to Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy who he said were willing to go big when it mattered. 

Then he ripped rivals he dubbed ‘pretenders’ he said were seeking to divert attention by focusing on small issues in an effort to divide the nation for their own advantage.

‘We have candidates for president who are talking about issues that are so small that sometimes it’s hard to even understand them,’ he said, in a remark that seemed aimed at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He said Donald Trump ‘made us smaller by dividing us even further and pitting one group against another, different groups pitted against different groups every day.’

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tore into Donald Trump in remarks in New Hampshire Tuesday

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tore into Donald Trump in remarks in New Hampshire Tuesday

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tore into Donald Trump in remarks in New Hampshire Tuesday

He said ‘pretenders’ were seeking ‘to divide you further, to make it easier for them to rule over you.’

Christie spoke at a town hall at St. Anselm’s Institute Of Politics in Manchester, putting him face to face with voters in a state where he focused heavily in his 2016 campaign, but where he came in sixth.

He spoke at first without dropping a name about a leader he called ‘lonely, self consumed’ and ‘self serving.’

Then, in blunt talk he plans to once again make a hallmark of his campaign, Christie said: ‘The person I am talking about who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault …. is Donald Trump.’

Christie made clear from the beginning of his remarks he would deliver on his promise to take the fight to Trump, who stands far above rivals in the GOP field.

His first question came from a clinical psychologist who said the nation has been ‘traumatized.’

Christy denounced ‘chaos’ and ‘constant screaming, yelling,’ as well as ‘faux strength.’ 

‘If you direct that chaos to aggrandize yourself … well then you’re traumatizing the nation,’ he said.

‘There is no such thing as Trump voters,’ he told a 15-year-old questioner. ‘He doesn’t own them. He didn’t’ take title to them. They’re not one of his buildings. They’re not one of his failed casinos in New Jersey. They’re not that wreck he’s got in Las Vegas.’

Christie ridiculed the narrative that he is running as a spoiler on a kamikaze mission to take down Trump.

‘The guy’s ahead in the polls. Who am I supposed to be worried about, Nikki Haley?’ he said in response to a question about what he learned from his failed 2016 run.

He vowed not to make the ‘same mistake’ of letting Trump boasts go unchecked on the assumption that people won’t believe them. 

‘The reason I’m going after Trump is two-fold. One he deserves it. And two it’s the way to win,’ he said.

Even after joking about his sixth place finish, he said his run for the White House is real. 

‘I am going out there to take out Donald Trump. But here’s why: I want to win. And I don’t want him to win.’

‘There are not multiple lanes to the nomination,’ he said, ridiculing the political science talk.

‘There is one lane to the Republican nomination, and he’s in front of it. And you want to win? You’d better go right through him.’ Then he spoke of Trump’s penchant to attack rivals: he already attacked Christie’s weight days ago.

‘He’s going to try to go through me,’ Christie said.

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