NASHUA — Gov. Chris Christie compared New Hampshire’s economy to New Jersey’s when he first took office, and he pledged more support to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Walt Havenstein to face what the candidate calls a “Walking Dead” economy.
Christie, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, introduced Havenstein Thursday at BAE Systems, the defense manufacturing company where Havenstein previously worked as a chief executive officer.
“Him putting himself forward now to serve in an entirely different way is both inspiring and daunting,” Christie said. He said the inspiring part was Havenstein’s experience leading a company with a budget three times larger than New Hampshire’s state operating budget.
“The daunting part is that the problems here in New Hampshire are pretty significant and need to be dealt with,” Christie said. “The lack of economic growth and job creation is something I’m fairly familiar with, having taken over New Jersey in similar circumstances back in 2010. And so I can tell Walt that it’s not easy when you’re governor, having to take over a moribund economy. I know his is barely moving forward. Mine was moving backwards when we got there.”Havenstein announced he would unveil a jobs agenda next week, and offered no sneak peek on what his proposal would entail.
“I want to put breath back into the economy of New Hampshire — back into what I refer to as the ‘Walking Dead’ economy, that is barely moving and has no life,” he said.The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in June.
The most recently available figures estimate 32,450 Granite Staters were unemployed, 6,310 fewer than in June 2013.
Havenstein said it was unacceptable that New Hampshire had fallen behind Vermont and Rhode Island in terms of economic growth.
Havenstein grew emotional when first speaking to a room of BAE Systems employees. He said he was proud to have worked with so many people who worked to protect “those who protect us.”
He made reference to when the company was Sanders, then a Lockheed-Martin company. He said it was an easy sell to keep the company in New Hampshire, and he said it was the best decision BAE Systems made.
Christie, who continues to be mentioned as a top tier presidential candidate for 2016, did not take questions from reporters at the event in Nashua. He was also in New Hampshire for a Republican State Committee fundraiser at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium during a Fisher Cats game Thursday night.
In Nashua, Christie said he would return to New Hampshire to support Havenstein’s candidacy. “I’m going to be up here often to help Walt as much as I possibly can,” he said.Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, made a trip to Nashua to counter Christie’s message.
He said Christie’s image suffered irreparable damage related to the scandal involving lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last year.
“The more time he spends in New Hampshire, the better for us,” he said.
Havenstein, who lives in Alton, has a main GOP primary challenger in Andrew Hemingway of Bristol.
The state primary is Sept. 9.