Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likely doesn't stand a chance in hell of winning the 2024 GOP nomination, but it sure might be fun watching him try.
Christie was in Manchester, New Hampshire, Monday casting doubt on the ability of other GOP hopefuls to take on Trump, according to Politico.
“You have to be fearless, because he will come back — and right at you,” Christie told a group of his former supporters in 2016. “And that means you need to think about who’s got the skill to do that, and who’s got the guts to do that, because it’s not going to end nicely.”
As his calling card, Christie cited "what I did to Marco" in a February 2016 debate when he lampooned Rubio for continually repeating memorized responses to answers. "There it is again," Christie said several times, drawing attention to Rubio's canned repetitions.
Christie had clearly set his sights on kneecapping Rubio following the Florida senator's strong finish in Iowa and promising poll numbers heading into New Hampshire.
Christie indeed derailed Rubio's campaign, but he also suffered an embarrassing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire and dropped out of the race shortly thereafter.
So why would Christie be able to do now what he failed to do in 2016? He told the group he made a "strategic error" that he won't make again—presumably going after Rubio when he should have taken aim at Trump.
Only the future knows whether Christie's aim is truer now, but he is right about one thing: Every other Republican candidate is still entertaining fantasies of appealing to the MAGA base by keeping their powder dry on Trump.
“They’re going to wriggle right up next to him and say ‘I’m almost like him, but I’m not quite as bad,’” Christie said of his fellow GOP hopefuls. “Let me tell you something, everybody—that’s going to lose as certain as [Trump] lost in ‘20, as we lost the House in ‘18, as we lost the Senate in ‘21, as we underperformed in ‘22.”
Christie isn't wrong on this point.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has built his entire unannounced candidacy on being Trump without the baggage. Without Trump, DeSantis is nothing but a guy with a beauty queen wannabe wife who has big plans for her second act.
Trump's former UN ambassador Nikki Haley has tread lightly on criticizing Trump, though she has noted that the national debt ballooned on Trump's watch without directly naming him.
Even former Vice President Mike Pence—whom Trump nearly got killed—has had trouble finding his footing on criticizing his former boss.
Every potential Republican contender knows they need to make nice with the MAGA base to have any chance of winning the primary. But again, that leaves the de facto frontrunner untouched while everyone else goes to blows to emerge as the GOP's second-place alternative to Trump.
Christie isn't trying to leave the door open to be a Trump alternative, which is exactly why he's so unlikely to win.
But the timing of his pitch couldn't be better after DeSantis demonstrated how green he is with his flip-flop on Ukraine and his poorly received swipe at Trump's hush money payments.
In fact, Christie disparaged DeSantis’ characterization of Russia’s war on Ukraine as a “territorial dispute,” saying it was clearly “authoritarian aggression.”
Republicans need someone who has already been humiliated by Trump (remember the Christie hostage video), has a serious axe to grind (remember Trump scrapping Christie's transition plan), and basically doesn't have any f*cks left to give.
Christie fits that to a tee. It would certainly be an entertaining twist.
It's just barely springtime in an off year, but there's been loads of election news lately, so co-hosts David Nir and David Beard have a super-sized roundup on this week's episode of The Downballot. The Davids recap the first round of voting in the race for Jacksonville mayor (which saw Democrats do unusually well) and the collapse of an effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell before turning to big batch of 2024 updates.
On tap for the Senate: The GOP's desperate effort to compete with Democratic fundraising enthusiasm by recruiting self-funders; why Republicans are afraid the guy who succeeded John Boehner in Congress will try to challenge Sherrod Brown; and how Democrats' plans to clear the field in Michigan may not succeed. Plus developments in the battle for New Hampshire's governorship, a key House seat in Wisconsin, and the saga of Tennessee's answer to George Santos.