Time to Bow Out, Chris Christie
Despite his powerful Trump criticism, the former New Jersey governor could end up hurting contenders better positioned to defeat Trump—as he did in 2016.
FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE played a key role in helping to secure the 2016 GOP nomination for Donald Trump. Most famously, at a debate in New Hampshire three days before that state’s Republican primary, Christie attacked Marco Rubio, depicting the Florida senator as inauthentic. Christie’s mockery contributed to Rubio, who had been ranking second in most polls before the debate, coming in fifth in the actual vote. Christie then followed up that wrecking operation by boosting Trump with his own endorsement two weeks later. He backed Trump in speeches on the campaign trail and led his presidential transition.
The fact that Trump proved to be ungrateful, firing Christie and throwing away his transition plans, does not negate the fact that Christie helped Trump win the presidency.
The question for today is: Will Christie deliver for Trump again?
The question might seem odd, given that Christie has devoted his 2024 campaign to vociferous attacks on Trump’s character. Alone among the Republican candidates, he has made running against Trump the central aim of his campaign, rightly noting that “there is no bigger issue in this race . . . than Donald Trump,” whom he has called “unfit,” “a liar and a coward,” “a dictator, a bully,” and “an angry bitter man.”
But as well justified as these criticisms are, they have not worked. In averages of national polls, Christie has mostly hovered under 3 percent. He is now polling (a distant) third in New Hampshire, and around fifth in Iowa and South Carolina. The fundraising for his campaign and for the super PAC that supports him was lagging as well, although it may have risen in recent weeks as some other hopeless candidates have dropped out.
Feeling déjà vu?
Compared to Christie’s strategy, the more subtle approach adopted by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley of avoiding a direct attack on Trump while opposing everything he stands for has proven far more effective, to judge by the polls and the funding so far.
Join a community that doesn’t mince words about threats to our democracy:
While Christie has no chance of taking the GOP nomination, Haley has one. It is an outside chance, to be sure, but it is a real chance.
Furthermore, in sharp contrast to the failing campaign of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Haley has taken a stand against the Trump gang’s “America First” isolationism. If the Republican party is to be liberated from Donald Trump and the Kremlin-aligned mob of nativist demagogues who stand behind him, Haley is the best hope in 2024—maybe the only hope.
By staying in the race, Christie threatens to quash that hope.
IF TRUMP WERE SIMPLY AN IMMORAL POLITICIAN intending to abuse the presidency for personal gain, Christie’s political malpractice would not be so consequential. The republic has endured and survived corrupt White House occupants before. But the stakes now are much higher.
Donald Trump is not merely a corrupt lunatic. He is a corrupt treasonous lunatic.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has launched a war to bring down the West. That war’s kinetic component is the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
They already succeeded in stalling—likely until January—any vote on Ukraine aid. If the United States cuts off its support, Ukraine will likely fall to Russia.
In that case, Russia will be greatly strengthened both materially and technically, and its armed forces will be advanced to the borders of NATO allies Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Furthermore, Russia’s strategic weakness along its southwest border, which constrains its ability to invade the Baltic states, will disappear. With Ukraine’s army deleted from the West’s order of battle, the United States would either have to send hundreds of thousands of troops to Europe to defend the continent or—more likely, under the leadership of a re-elected Trump and his fellow Putin Republicans—watch NATO collapse, as first the Germans and then others cut deals with the continent’s new Russia-China axis overlords.
And think of what might follow: With the United States discredited as an ally, Taiwan would have no choice but to capitulate to China, while Japan and South Korea, would be forced to initiate crash programs to develop their own nuclear arsenals. Asia would become a tinder box for armageddon.
Even if global war is somehow avoided, the new world order will be anything but beneficial for the United States, as America’s enemies depress our economy by dictating the rules and outcomes for international business.
And then there are Trump’s domestic politics, where his statements and proposals stand in direct opposition to everything that America stands for and the legal foundation of the Constitution itself: his denouncing immigrants for “polluting the blood” of America, his plans for unprecedented mass deportations, his calling for a religious test for admission and citizenship, his baldly stating he wants to be a dictator.
In short, the election of Donald Trump would represent a deadly threat not only to the security of the entire free world but the very existence of the American republic.
Everything that can be done to stop Trump must be done.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO WAYS that voters can stop Trump. Yes, you might pray that the courts will allow him to be removed from the ballot, or that prosecutors will succeed in convicting him in one of the several criminal cases now pending. But there are only two options voters can avail themselves of: Trump can be denied the Republican nomination or defeated in the general election.
It is possible that Joe Biden could defeat Trump in the general election. The polls say otherwise right now, but they could prove wrong; no one can say what the outcome of a general election will be eleven months in the future.
But that said, a Biden victory is by no means certain. No sane person should want to bet the preservation of world peace and American democracy on that one possibility.
Therefore, if there is any possibility of denying Trump the nomination, that opportunity must be pursued. Given the catastrophic consequences of a Trump victory, it would be irresponsible not to make the strongest possible effort against him.
Every day it is becoming clearer that the only possible Republican alternative to Trump is Nikki Haley. She has pulled nearly even with DeSantis in Iowa and is well ahead of him in New Hampshire:
Christie is far behind Haley but splitting a key segment of the sane Republican vote. Were Christie to pull out of the race and endorse Haley, she could put DeSantis to bed. Then it’s off to South Carolina, where going one-on-one against Trump, she could have a real shot at doing well enough to destroy Trump’s air of inevitability. After that, it would be a whole new horse race.
This will be an uphill battle to be sure. But it must be fought.
So, Governor Christie, you now have a choice. You can do the patriotic thing and throw your support behind Nikki Haley. Or you can stay in the race and once again secure the Republican nomination for Donald Trump—an action that this time could well lead to the collapse of the Western-led world order, global chaos, and, quite possibly, the end of the American republic.
It’s up to you, Chris.
Robert Zubrin is an aerospace engineer. His next book, The New World on Mars: What We Can Create on the Red Planet, will be published in February 2024 by Diversion Books. Twitter: @robert_zubrin.