Chris Christie argues ‘it’s not going to end nicely’ for Donald Trump in ‘24, as he touts his own debate chops
GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicts that in a 2024 Republican presidential nomination race that’s shaping up to be combustible, “it’s not going to end nicely” for former President Donald Trump.
And Christie, a former two-term Republican governor and 2016 presidential contender who’s seriously mulling another White House run, argued that he’s got the debate chops to potentially take down Trump should he face off with the former president, who four months into his third White House run remains the clear front-runner in the early GOP nomination national polls.
Christie made his comments as he headlined a nearly two-hour long town hall on Monday evening in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP nominating calendar.
“You better have somebody on that stage who can do to him what I did to Marco,” Christie said during a town hall the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anslem College, which for over two decades has been a must stop for presidential hopefuls and candidates of both parties.
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Christie was referring to his heated exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at a nationally televised debate in New Hampshire days ahead of the 2016 Republican presidential primary – a face-off that pundits awarded as a knockout blow to Christie.
“Because that’s the only thing that’s going to defeat Donald Trump. And that means you have to have the skill to do it and that means you have to be fearless, because he will come back at you and right at you,” Christie then emphasized. “So you need to think about who’s go the skill to do that and who’d got the guts to do it. Because it’s not going to end nicely, no matter what. His end will not be a calm and quiet conclusion.”
Christie, who is considered one of the best communicators in the GOP and was known during his tenure for the kind of in-your-face politics that Trump has also mastered, was asked by Fox News after the town hall if he thought any of the other actual or potential contenders in the emerging Republican presidential field also had the debate skills to effectively take on Trump.
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“I don’t know the answer to that question but what I would say is no one has to wonder if I do,” the former governor emphasized.
Christie placed all his chips in his campaign for president seven years ago in New Hampshire. However, his campaign crashed and burned after a disappointing and distant sixth-place finish in New Hampshire, far behind Trump, who crushed the competition in the primary, boosting him towards the nomination and eventually the White House.
Christie became the first among the other GOP 2016 contenders to endorse Trump and for years was a top outside adviser to the then-president and chaired Trump’s high-profile commission on opioids. However, the two had a falling out after Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Biden. The past two years Christie has become one of the most vocal Trump critics in the GOP.
“I don’t want to hear anybody in this room saying ‘ah you know you’re saying this because you’re a never-Trump,’” Christie told the audience. “I was the first one on the bus and I worked all the way thru Election night 2020 for him.”
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But Christie added to applause “I got off the train when he stood up in the West Wing of the White House behind the seal of the president and told us the election was stolen when he didn’t have one fact to back it up. I’m sorry. That’s when I get off. Because the truth matters.”
Trump, at a speech to supporters early this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), stressed that “I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.” He repeated the line on Saturday night in Waco, Texas, as the former president held his first campaign rally of the year.
“Guess what everybody. No thanks,” Christie said to a splattering of applause from the crowd. “The only person he cares about is him. And if we haven’t learned that from Election Day 2020 to today, then we are not paying attention.”
Christie reiterated that “we are the party of me right now. It’s about him and nothing else. You can’t win as the party of me…you’ve got to win as the party of us.”
And in a jab at some of the other actual or potential candidates in the 2024 GOP nomination field, Christie took aim at what he called “Trump lite” candidates. “That’s going to lose as certain as he lost in ’20, as we lost the House in 18, as we lost the Senate in ’21, as we underperformed in ’22,” he argued.
Christie also jumped into the growing debate in the GOP over the war in the Ukraine. While many in the GOP’s traditional hawkish wing firmly back supporting Ukraine and criticize President Biden’s administration for not doing enough to assist Kyiv, they face an increasingly more vocal wing of anti-war voices from the MAGA wing of the party.
Christie spotlighted a recent comment by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that the Russian war against Ukraine was a “territorial dispute.” The comment created a firestorm of pushback from many in the GOP in recent weeks, although DeSantis later emphasized that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was a “war criminal.”
“I heard Gov. DeSantis a week or two ago call what’s happening with Ukraine in Russia a territorial dispute,” Christie said. “When you roll tanks and artillery into a free country in an attempt to take their land and their lives by force, that’s an authoritarian aggression. That is not a territorial dispute.”
DeSantis, who remains on the 2024 sidelines as of now but is widely expected to enter the race and is seen as the top rival to Trump. In an interview that ran last week on Fox Nation, the conservative governor whose seen his popularity among Republicans across the nation soar the past three years, said “stay tuned” when asked about a potential presidential run.
Christie also zeroed in on a DeSantis comment from a “Fox and Friends interview in February. The Florida governor, criticizing the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy, said “they have effectively a blank check policy with no clear strategic objective identified and these things can escalate. And I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into proxy war with China, getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea.”
The former New Jersey governor urged “someone please place a wakeup call to Tallahassee. Hasn’t he seen what’s going on. Fentanyl is coming over our southern border from China and killing 100,000 Americans a year. I call that a proxy war. They’re flying intelligence-gathering balloon over our country with blatant disregard for our country. I call that a proxy war.”
And Christie argued that “it is naïve to say we want to avoid a proxy war with China. We’re in one.”
Fox News reached out to DeSantis political team for reaction but had yet to receive a comment at the time the story published.
In an interview with Fox News Digital ahead of his trip to New Hampshire, Christie reiterated that he’ll make his 2024 decision in the next 45 to 60 days. He explained that the three factors going into his decision will be “seeing a pathway to winning… believing that you have something at that moment to offer the country that it needs to hear,” and whether he would have the support of his family.
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“If I answer yes to all three of those questions, then I’ll run. If I answer no to one of them, then I won’t,” he said.
And on Monday, he told the crowd at the town hall that when it comes to a timetable, “I think it’s June is probably the latest you can get it. Because the first debate is in August and if you want to be a serious candidate in this race, you’ve got to be on that stage in August and start making your case.”