Christie Can’t Endorse Haley Now
He’s not joining any GOP team.
SHOCK REVERBERATED ACROSS the political landscape after Nikki Haley’s deliberate omission of “slavery” when asked the cause of the Civil War. Starting on the night of December 27, when Haley gave her answer, and continuing well into the next day, reactions were swift and abundant—from television to tweets, from Joe Biden, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, the DNC, outraged liberals, and the online MAGA voices who never trusted Haley.
But Chris Christie was, for hours, conspicuously silent.
Perhaps Christie was spending that morning fielding calls, texts, and emails from frantic establishment Republicans who want Haley to face Trump alone in the coming primary contests. After all, that scenario, however unlikely, appears to be the last remaining chance to stop Trump from becoming the GOP nominee. Polls show Christie’s support would go to Haley, which means his departure and endorsement would do the most to pressure DeSantis, consolidate votes, and shift the race.
But before the words left Haley’s mouth in Berlin, New Hampshire, Christie had already cut an ad directly addressing the calls for him to end his campaign. Despite polling in last place, and being eclipsed by Haley in the Live Free or Die State where he has placed all his hopes for a win, Christie explained the reason he remains a candidate is not actually to win but to expose the danger and corruption of Trump. Speaking to the camera in the ad, he says:
Some people say I should drop out of this race. Really? I’m the only one saying Donald Trump is a liar. . . . He caused a riot on Capitol Hill, he’ll burn America to the ground to help himself. Every Republican leader says that in private. I’m the only one saying it in public.
No one succeeded in talking Christie into helping out a wounded Haley. He emerged at an event later on December 28 and said that while Haley is not a racist, her reasons for evasion are pernicious.
Christie said Haley deflects in her answers about slavery to avoid offending people with the truth:
The reason she did it is just as bad, if not worse. . . . She did it because she’s unwilling to offend anyone by telling the truth. . . . It’s worse to be able to be dishonest with people, and that’s what’s happening here.
Christie cited Haley’s response from 2010 about the Civil War being a choice between “tradition vs. change” and said he wanted to speak with her directly as he knew she would be listening—that slavery wasn’t tradition and that the choice was between right and wrong. He also called her out for avoiding a response about her willingness to serve as Trump’s vice president and said “she’s unwilling to tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
He dug in on Haley’s acquiescence. “She is smart and she knows what [Trump] did on January 6th was wrong . . . and the reason I know she knows it is because she said it back then, but she won’t say it now,” he added.
Many Republicans have hoped, since Christie defended Haley against attacks from Vivek Ramaswamy at the last debate, that he would come around and endorse her in the end.
But Christie isn’t buckling twice. Credited with having helped smooth the path for Trump’s nomination in 2016, he has now gone all in on trashing his former friend and is clearly determined to spend every remaining day telling the truth about Trump’s lies, corruption, and crimes. Dropping out to clear the field would mean supporting a candidate he knows is going to lose to Trump anyway, and who refuses to tell that truth.
Haley is a talented, smart, ambitious, hypocritical phony. And she is going to endorse Trump. And if he asks her to be his running mate she is going to accept. So backing Haley would defeat the purpose of Christie’s campaign, which is to truth-bomb the GOP, injure Trump, and redeem himself.
SIX WEEKS AGO I described Christie here as “doing more to stiffen the civic spine and protect democracy than almost anyone else.”
Christie has no interest in “clearing the field,” and he won’t back Trump or whoever emerges as the former president’s final rival in the coming primaries. This is a disappointment to the Koch political operation, to hundreds of other establishment donors and Republican elites who want to stop Trump, and of course to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, whom Christie referred to as Haley’s new “political husband.”
On Sunday Sununu went on CNN to defend Haley—he said she “cleared it right up and everyone’s moving on”—and to drag Christie. Calling him a “friend,” Sununu said Christie only talks about Trump, that “the only person that wants Chris Christie to stay in the race is Donald Trump,” and that he isn’t likely to get any delegates out of New Hampshire.
Sununu seemed to suggest Christie will fold in the end because he doesn’t want to upset the Never Trump Republicans who dream that Haley can take out Trump:
And so I think Chris is going to make a quick calculation. . . . He’s obviously really upset all the pro-Trump people, right? I think he’s a smart guy. He wants to have a voice in this party. He doesn’t want to go forward upsetting all the anti-Trump people too because he kind of overstayed his welcome, put his ego first.
But Sununu can’t intimidate Christie. And Sununu is wrong: Christie doesn’t want to “have a voice in this party.” Sununu himself does. Christie’s time is up in the GOP.
In his ad, Christie exposes Republican elites who agree with him behind closed doors and say another thing in public to avoid MAGA derision. Sununu, and the rest, are asking Christie to play nicely in the sandbox after he just kicked sand in their eyes.
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SUNUNU IS CORRECT ABOUT THIS MUCH: Christie’s campaign is “at an absolute dead end.” He is not likely to make the stage at any more debates. But Christie is comfortable on his island, separated from the GOP establishment that has hated him since 2016.
So Republicans can keep blowing up his phone, or trying to out-bully a bully, but Christie isn’t throwing his integrity away for Haley’s ambition.
It’s now reasonable to assume Christie will endorse Biden later this year. If he refuses to do that, he will finally become irrelevant. And nobody thinks that’s what Christie wants.