Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie had news about Donald Trump for attendees of his presidential campaign kickoff event Tuesday night in New Hampshire.
"If you think for one minute, when he says, 'I am your retribution'—if you think he wants to be your retribution, forget it," Christie told them, referring to Trump's signature 2024 campaign pledge. "He's going to be retribution for one person and one person only: himself."
Trump, he said, was a "bitter, angry man" who wanted to get back in the seat of power so he could look out for No. 1.
"If you want somebody who's actually going to fight for you," Christie continued, "I would suggest to you he's not the right choice."
Before launching, Christie advertised himself and fundraised for his bid as a brawler who would take on Trump like no other Republican in the GOP field. Frankly, that was a very low bar, given the lightweight barbs of Trump's other rivals thus far. But Christie didn't just clear that bar during his town hall-style event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics: He smashed it to smithereens.
If New Hampshire marked a bitter end to Christie's disappointing run in 2016, he delivered a raucous rebirth Tuesday, with nothing and no one off limits.
“The grift from this family is breathtaking,” Christie said, going straight at the Trump family's shameless swindling. “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis?”
What for? It's a payoff, Christie suggested.
"You think it’s because he’s some kind of investing genius?" Christie posited. "Or do you think it’s because he was sitting next to the president of the United States for 4 years doing favors for the Saudis?"
Voters should be pissed off, he added.
"That’s your money," Christie said. "That’s your money he stole, and gave it to his family."
Speaking of wasting taxpayer money, Trump dug America into the biggest financial ditch it's ever seen.
"He left with the biggest deficit of any president in American history," Christie said, before pummeling one of Trump's patently ridiculous 2016 campaign pledges. "He said he was going to eliminate the national debt in 8 years. He added $3 trillion to the national debt in 4 years."
On foreign policy, Christie wondered if attendees had heard the one from Trump about promising to end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours if he were elected president.
"Did you hear that one?" Christie asked, calling it "a beauty" worthy of Trump's "top five" list in “a career of complete falsehoods."
But hey, why not give Trump the benefit of the doubt, Christie continued.
"Let me tell you how he would. He'd give Ukraine to Russia," Christie explained. "He'd call Zelenskyy and say, 'Hey, guess what? Time to raise the Russian flag up on the poll. We're out of here.'"
Christie managed a few hits on other 2024 candidates, but he deftly kept Trump in the mix.
Only Trump, Christie said, could manage to lose to Joe Biden.
"He wouldn't be in office if it wasn't for Trump," Christie offered. "Joe Biden never beat anybody outside the state of Delaware in 45 years except for one guy: Donald J. Trump," he said, knocking Biden's two previous runs for president in 1988 and 2008.
Christie also added a touch of humor at his own expense, but not without a jab at Trump first.
"Beware of the leader in this country, who you have handed leadership to, who has never made a mistake, who has never done anything wrong, who when something goes wrong it's always someone else's fault, and who has never lost," Christie said, then paused as the crowd giggled at his oblique reference to Trump's persistent election fraud lies.
"I've lost," Christie continued earnestly, before pointing around the room and dropping a pitch-perfect delivery: "You people did that to me in 2016."
Indeed, Christie suffered a sixth-place finish in the Granite State after hanging his hopes on a strong finish there to boost his 2016 bid.
But now Christie's back, warning voters about the "pretenders" who say, "Pick me, ‘cause I'm kinda like what you picked before—but not quite as crazy, but I don't want to say his name."
Christie completed his barb at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by saying the name.
"Let me be clear," he said, "the person I am talking about who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, who always finds someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong, but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right—is Donald Trump."
Trump's response to Christie's truly epic takedown of him was a predictable exercise in fat shaming the man who initially led his presidential transition team and nearly died after helping COVID-positive Trump prep for a 2020 debate.
"How many times did Chris Christie use the word SMALL?" Trump wrote on Truth Social. "Does he have a psychological problem with SIZE?" Trump also disseminated doctored video of the town hall depicting Christie at a buffet.
Trump is known for his mastery of finding his opponents' weak spots and savagely exploiting them, but if anything seemed small by comparison, it was Trump's response to Christie's biting commentary.
Trump has never seen broadsides like this from a Republican rival with no fucks to give beyond his promise of going nuclear on the perennial loser and GOP front-runner.
Perhaps because Christie's critique of Trump was so brutally incisive and Trump's response so childishly predictable, it seemed weak. But one has to wonder if Trump’s one-time superpower still packs the same punch.
We talk about the field of Republicans willing to go up against the MAGA monster that is Trump. It’s a veritable who cares of the Republican Party, but it is also indicative of the rot inside of the conservative world.