EXETER, N.H. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on New Hampshire voters to support fellow Republican Ovide LaMontagne in the race for governor and described challenger Maggie Hassan as a ‘‘New Jersey Democrat.’’
The famously outspoken Christie was the headliner for a night of stump speeches in front of a standing-room only crowd of about 300 at the Old Town Hall on Wednesday.
Former Republican governors of New Hampshire, John Sununu, Craig Benson, and Stephen Merrill, delivered brief opening remarks, and all reminded the crowd that the race for president and governor are very close and only 13 days remained to convince undecided voters.
LaMontagne fired up the crowd by criticizing Hassan’s tax policies and accused her of trying to get voters to take their ‘‘eyes off the ball.’’
He implored the audience to tell their friends, families, and co-workers what the race is all about.
‘‘This race is about jobs, the economy, and lowering taxes,’’ he said.
Introducing Christie, La Montagne said ‘‘The states that are doing the best right now are the ones that are led by Republican governors.’’
Christie, the first-term New Jersey governor, had spent the day in Massachusetts campaigning for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. He brought the crowd to its feet as soon as he entered the hall.
‘‘New Jersey has lived the horror film that your lives will become if you elect Maggie Hassan,’’ Christie said. ‘‘She’s a New Jersey Democrat.’’
Christie criticized Hassan’s opposition of an amendment to the state constitution to ban income tax. He then described how, in 1976, New Jersey instituted a state income tax of 2 percent.
‘‘Today, it is 9 percent and New Jersey has the third highest income tax in the country,’’ Christie said. ‘‘Ovide will make sure, with every ounce of energy he has, that that will not happen in New Hampshire.’’
Christie had the crowd laughing a number of times, but also delivered a long and impassioned plea for support.
Echoing previous speakers, he reminded the audience that less than two weeks remained to get the Republican message out before the election.
‘‘New Hampshire doesn’t want to be known as another failed liberal experiment,’’ he said. ‘‘When people say that politicians are all the same, so it doesn’t matter who you vote for, that’s the lazy, easy, response. Governors matter. They become the spiritual leaders of the state.’’
As an example, Christie recalled polls from just before he took office that showed 19 percent of his constituents approved of the direction New Jersey was going.
‘‘Today, it’s 54 percent,’’ the governor said.
‘‘It’s more than just a vote. You are part of a movement to change history in New Hampshire.’’
Earlier Wednesday, the president of the national Planned Parenthood Action Fund called Hassan a champion for women’s right to make their own health decisions.
Cecile Richards told reporters at a news conference Wednesday the stakes for women are high in this election.
Hassan was asked about a comment made by Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, ‘‘that’s something God intended.’’
Hassan said a group of candidates are running for office who believe women can’t be trusted to make their own health care decisions. Hassan argues rival Lamontagne is too extreme because he supports limiting abortion and employer paid coverage of contraceptives.
Hassan and LaMontagne are squaring off in the Nov. 6 election to replace retiring Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who has served four terms.