Christie seeks New Hampshire comeback
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Chris Christie on Tuesday sought to revive his flagging presidential prospects by unveiling a new economic plan in New Hampshire that would cut taxes and slash federal regulations.

“I am here today because the next president of the United States must have a specific plan to restore growth to America’s middle class,” Christie said during an hour-long speech at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester.

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The New Jersey governor said his plan would achieve 4 percent economic growth, in part by reducing the number of tax brackets from six to three and lowering the top rate for individuals to 28 percent. He also proposed reducing the bottom tax rate to “single digits” and cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent.

The Republican also proposed putting a freeze on new corporate regulations, reducing the costs companies take on to hire new employees and enacting broad energy and education reforms that would provide the middle class with “growing wages and growing opportunity.”

“It’s time to tell investors that America is again open for business, that the American people can again build an economy that will be a growth leader and not a growth laggard,” he said.

It’s the second detailed set of national policy prescriptions Christie has unveiled in recent weeks as he seeks to convince the Republican Party he is still a contender for the White House in 2016.

As recently as late last year, Christie was viewed as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, but the scandal in New Jersey over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge have sent his poll numbers into a tailspin.

Republicans strategists say the focus on policy could help Christie reclaim his standing in the crowded 2016 field.

In a risky political move last month, Christie latched on to the so-called “third rail” of politics in calling for a series of reforms to the nation’s entitlement programs. More major policy initiatives are on the way, according to Christie aides, including on foreign policy.

“We haven’t heard that many new ideas proposed by the candidates yet because a lot of them are still running on their biographies and accomplishments and making the case against President Obama,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. “The more ideas Christie can put out there right now, the better he’ll be able to shape things going forward and move the conversation back on to his terrain.”

Christie’s advisers are signaling that his road to a political comeback goes through New Hampshire, the first political primary state in the nation and the site of Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo MORE’s (R-Ariz.) unexpected 2008 resurgence.

After only visiting the Granite State once between November and April, Christie has camped out in the state, holding more than a dozen events there in the past month.

Christie’s economic speech on Tuesday was his second major policy address in the state, coming on the heels of his entitlements address at St. Anselm College in Manchester in mid-April.

Republican strategists say New Hampshire is a natural fit for Christie as he seeks to regain momentum. The state has historically been kind to mainstream conservative candidates, like Mitt Romney, who won the 2012 New Hampshire primary in a landslide.

They also say the town-hall events, where Christie’s straight-talking style is on full display, give him a competitive advantage.

McCain held more than 100 town halls in New Hampshire on the way to winning the primaries there in both 2000 and 2008, and it’s a strategy some Republicans say Christie needs to mimic.

“He draws a crowd, and based on his performance and reception here, I’d say his demise has been greatly exaggerated,” said former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen. “If he keeps doing these, he’s going to find an audience and a market here. When he gets up there [for a town hall], he’s witty, personable and engaging. He seems to draw energy from them.”

Still, Christie’s support in the state has eroded as his star has fallen nationally.

Christie sits in sixth place among GOP candidates in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in New Hampshire, behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (Ky.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire McConnell: Wearing a mask is 'single most significant thing' to fight pandemic McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (Texas).

The most recent WMUR Granite State poll was particularly ominous for Christie. In that survey, he came in 10th place, taking just 3 percent support. Furthermore, Christie trailed only businessman Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE as the most unpopular Republican candidate, with 13 percent saying they would not vote for him under any circumstances.

“He’s going to need to live in New Hampshire, almost as if he’s running for governor of the state,” said Mackowiak. “He’s spent considerable time there already, but I’m not sure it’s enough. He needs to be there two or three days every week from here on out because your schedule starts getting chopped up in the summer with the debates.”

Cullen, who is writing a book on New Hampshire primaries, says a Christie comeback in the state wouldn’t be unprecedented. He noted that McCain was at 3 percent support in the state at this point in 1999 before running away with the contest.

“[Christie] was stuck in neutral for a while, but he’s showing up now and keeping a strong schedule,” Cullen said. “He’s still in striking distance, so he’ll at least be heard and have an opportunity here to build support here.”