Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to launch his presidential bid next week in New Hampshire. Christie, warts and all, is a welcome addition to the Republican field for anyone with the ultimate goal of defeating Donald Trump, be it in the Republican primary or the general election.
Christie has premised his bid on being the only Republican attack dog in the field willing to take on Trump directly and to date, no GOP rival has proven him wrong. When Trump was first indicted in March for the Stormy Daniels campaign finance scandal, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dipped his pinky toe into the fiery waters of Trump opposition—then immediately retreated.
In Christie's view, that type of timidity and deference to Trump will only result in a Trump nomination.
“There’s one lane. And that one lane, Donald Trump’s at the head of. So, if you want to be the nominee, you got to go through Donald Trump. I don’t think there’s any other way to do it,” Christie told ABC’s “This Week" in March, as he worked to build momentum for his candidacy.
Christie has clearly gained some traction with the donor class for his approach. This week, his allies launched a super PAC, and he will be obligated to make good on his promise of attacking Trump head-on if he wants his bid to continue being funded. Though Christie has at times been deferential to Trump (e.g., the infamous hostage video after he endorsed Trump in 2016), Christie also has a legitimate beef with Trump after leading his presidential transition team only to have Trump demote him once he actually won the White House. Christie's chances of actually winning the nomination are likely dim. In 2016, his main contribution to the GOP field was to obliterate the candidacy of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida during a debate just before the New Hampshire primary. Rubio had some momentum coming out of Iowa, but his fifth-place finish in the Granite State turned out to be the death knell of his candidacy. Christie, however, finished sixth, failing to even crack double digits. He dropped out shortly thereafter.
But to the extent that Christie makes good on his promise to challenge Trump head-on, others in the Republican field will benefit, as will Democrats. Any direct hit Christie lands on Trump during the primary provides Democrats with attack fodder in the general election, should Trump come out ahead.
The Republican primary is still Trump's to lose. Defeating him, as I have argued, will take an all-hands-on-deck approach: Christie broadsiding him (because no one else will), likely more indictments, the emergence of a real Trump alternative (it's not at all clear that DeSantis fits that bill), and the willingness of all the juiceless also-rans to drop out either before Iowa or immediately after. The odds are exceedingly long, but they still exist.
We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.