Gov. Christie has won a sought-after endorsement: a front-page editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader, the only statewide newspaper in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.
In an editorial running across the top of Sunday's newspaper – with the headline "For our safety, our future: Chris Christie for President" – publisher Joe McQuaid wrote that Christie is "the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs," citing his background as governor and U.S. attorney.
"Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times," McQuaid wrote, saying that Christie had "prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters."
But "the one reason he may be best-suited to lead during these times is because he tells it like it is and isn't shy about it," McQuaid wrote. While other candidates have drawn attention for blunt talk, "it's important when you are telling it like it is to actually know what you are talking about," he wrote. "Gov. Christie knows what he is saying because he has experienced it."
While the Union Leader's conservative-leaning editorial board is vocal, it has not often chosen the eventual GOP nominee in recent presidential election cycles, with the exception of Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008. In the 2012 race, the paper endorsed former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich.
But the paper's endorsement has predated rises in the polls. A 2011 analysis by FiveThirtyEight of what were then the past six election cycles found the Union Leader's backing of a candidate had about an 11-percentage-point impact in the New Hampshire primary.
Christie, who begins another two-day campaign swing through New Hampshire Monday, has garnered between 4 percent and 8 percent in recent polls of the state's likely GOP primary voters. His favorability in the state has risen more significantly.
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, McQuaid said he was "looking for somebody who could get the nomination."
He and his editorial writer had settled on governors – "Freshman senators without a lot of experience are not good," McQuaid said on Meet the Press – writing off Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Christie, "Christie is the guy who can take the fight to Trump, Hillary, ISIS," McQuaid said. He said Christie had faced greater challenges in governing New Jersey than Bush had in Florida, and said Bush "has not been a U.S attorney, which I think is also a key in these troubled times. And Jeb Bush doesn't look like he wants it."
McQuaid said Christie had "waltzed around" on the Second Amendment, but "came to a position we could agree with, which is the Second Amendment rules."
He also said he'd been surprised by Christie's response to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, which was that "he said he'd learned not to be so trusting. And I said, 'You're a U.S. attorney. You trusted people?'" But McQuaid also said that "I don't think he had anything to do" with the bridge scandal.