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We Should Be Thanking Chris Christie
His candidacy is about the truth, let’s hope it lasts longer.
SAVE FOR TAYLOR SWIFT’S THE ERAS TOUR MOVIE, nothing in our shared American experience in 2023 has uplifted me like Chris Christie’s campaign joy ride.
Yes, many of us haven’t forgiven the former New Jersey governor for cementing Trump’s path to the nomination back in 2016, normalizing him at a critical stretch of the primary contest.
No, Christie has no chance of winning the nomination this time around; he is the candidate the base hates more than anyone, and he will not end up in anyone’s cabinet at the end of this.
The best outcome Christie can hope for would be a surprise New Hampshire victory that—because of the nature of the state’s primary rules—would be considered an outlier and would not alter Trump’s momentum in the remainder of the primary. Christie knows that, and he knows that we know that.
Yet Christie has defied expectations, running an error-free campaign, visiting two war zones, and performing well consistently. He has met the criteria to make the debate stage three times, has risen—albeit slightly—from the literal bottom of the polling heap, and convinced donors to fund this thing. In this last quarter Christie raised $3.8 million, and not from bozos. Stanley Druckenmiller and several other billionaires see a purpose too; they’re not writing checks for charity.
Now that Sen. Tim Scott is finally out of the race, the supporters of former Gov. Nikki Haley would love for Christie to drop out, too. They assume his support would go to her—part of the seemingly unkillable fantasy in which Haley or Ron DeSantis scores second place in Iowa to enter a one-on-one contest with Donald Trump.
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But Christie shouldn’t drop out. He is the only Republican running who is pummeling the voters with facts and truth—about lies, delusion, and crime. Just because his race is futile doesn’t mean his candidacy is.
AND OF COURSE, Christie’s race is about redemption. He wanted to be Trump’s vice president or attorney general after 2016; he prepped Trump for debate; he ran Trump’s transition until Jared Kushner got him fired from it; he hung around and likely knew in the summer or fall of 2020 that if Trump lost the election he was planning to say it was rigged. But Christie stayed in the circle, and Trump gave him COVID and he almost died. Somehow, according to Christie, it all became clear to him on election night in 2020 when Trump started lying to the public about the outcome, that Trump had crossed some line into the unforgivable.
I don’t care how late Christie’s awakening has come, nor whether his campaign is about positioning him to host a cable show. It is furthering a critical imperative, so play it for me on a loop.
Christie is shaming Republicans, while also attempting to frighten them, in a way no one else in the country is. Joe Biden can’t talk about Trump’s criminal charges. Christie goes before the MAGA masses and invites the hisses and boos. He is doing more to stiffen the civic spine and protect democracy than almost anyone else. Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson may agree with Christie, but he isn’t being heard.
At the Florida Freedom Summit on November 5 in Kissimmee, the audience booed Christie from the time he walked on stage until he concluded his fifteen-minute speech. Christie gave it right back, pointing his finger and saying, “your anger at the truth is reprehensible,” and warning, “the truth is coming.”
Last week, he warned that a conviction is coming too.
“I have tried 130 political corruption cases, and my record was 130 to 0,” Christie said. Trump “is going to be convicted. He is guilty of the crimes he’s charged with, and [former chief of staff Mark Meadows] is going to prove it. Then what are we going to do?” Christie noted the recent New York Times/Siena poll that showed Trump’s support in swing states—where he is beating Biden—“collapses” in the face of a conviction.
On Monday, in a CNN interview, Christie noted that Trump’s federal trial on charges relating to the 2020 election begins the day before Super Tuesday, and he stated again that “Donald Trump is going to be convicted this spring of these crimes.”
He added that “Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, and Vivek Ramaswamy all raised their hand at the first debate” to pledge to support a convicted Trump in the general election. Christie, of course, did not.
“No one on that stage, other than me, will take him on,” Christie said after the third debate last week. “They’re running for either vice president or a member of his cabinet.”
That doesn’t sound like someone prepping to endorse Haley.
CHRISTIE AGREED WITH HALEY in last week’s debate about the importance of helping Ukraine counter Vladimir Putin. “This is not a choice, this is the price we pay for being the leaders of the free world,” he said in an incredibly moving response that received applause. His resolve about Israel was as robust, and days later he visited Israel at the invitation of its foreign ministry.
Watching Christie carry a bouquet of flowers in Moshchun, Ukraine, or sporting a flak jacket at the Israel/Gaza border would be worth a chuckle, the too-large Jersey guy without a suit jacket, if Christie were unserious, like Ramaswamy. But not only has Christie’s campaign been entirely devoid of photo ops, his views of both conflicts are earnest and authentic.
The commitment he has articulated to both Israel and Ukraine is the language of a dying Republican party. Although he cannot rehabilitate the Republicans who now make up Trump’s most committed base, he reminds them of what they used to champion—America’s indispensable leadership abroad, liberty, character, and the rule of law.
Haley has stuck up for Ukraine, but she has made no defense of the rule of law or the need for integrity in the highest office in the land. And if she is still in the race this winter, expect her support for Ukraine to go quiet.
When Christie leaves the presidential primary, and his banishment from the GOP is complete, it may be too much to hope that he has a change of heart and supports Biden.
When asked at a CNN town hall in June whether Biden or Trump were most dangerous for the country Christie said, “Look, it’s a coin flip”—it is notable he didn’t say Biden. But we never would have seen him on the debate stage if he had answered “Trump.”
I’m glad we got to hear what Christie has to say, and that the truth is coming. Play it on a loop.