Former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie filed paperwork Tuesday formally launching his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election. Christie was a loyal advisor to Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign, but he later became an outspoken critic of the former president, going so far as to calling him a “coward” and “Putin’s puppet.” With little support from the party — around 1% of registered Republicans, according to polls conducted last week — Christie hopes to stop Trump from ever reaching the White House again.
Christie, 60, held an event this afternoon in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he announced his campaign. In this first official act, he, who at one point was a federal attorney, did not shy away from controversy and accused Trump directly of eluding responsibility for his actions and worrying only about his own ego. “A lonely, self-consumed, self-serving, mirror hog is not a leader,” he said about his former friend.
The former governor of New York’s twin state offers a trump card to traditional Republicans, those who deplore Trump’s strident behavior. But judging by his low support, he may suffer the same fate as in 2016, when he withdrew from the race. According to his team, quoted by local media in New Jersey, he will present his campaign in a positive tone, appealing to the country’s “exhausted majority” and standing up to Trump’s hijacking or patrimonialization of the GOP.
Christie’s campaign team is made up of his traditional collaborators, those who helped him in the 2009 gubernatorial campaign, long before Trump’s irruption distorted the Republican essence. His candidacy will be based on drawing a sharp contrast with the former president, whom he not only supported in the 2016 election campaign, but also during his presidency. The rupture between the two came in November 2020, when Trump began to spread the lie that the Democrats had stolen the election from him.
Unlike Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, and other representatives of the hard wing of the Republican Party who have announced their campaigns for 2024, one aspect of Christie’s political career will always stand out: his collaboration with then-president Barack Obama in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey and New York. The Democrat visited the places most affected by the natural catastrophe, and he and Christie appeared before the media in good company, lending a hand without distinction of party colors. The greeting between the two at the foot of the runway in Atlantic City immediately became ammunition for Republicans, who railed against Christie. Current vice-president Kamala Harris recently referenced the 2012 meeting and called it a “model” of political behavior. The harmony between Christie and Obama, Harris said in February at a meeting of governors, “established a tradition” of bipartisanship in a crisis, despite the fact that a few days later the elections were held, in which Obama revalidated his mandate against Republican Mitt Romney. The current president, Joe Biden, was vice-president at the time.
Far from rectifying his encounter with Obama, Christie later promised that he would never apologize for it, “never, to anyone,” stating that he would not have done his job as governor if he had snubbed for political reasons a president who offered help for his state. But the gesture did not sit well with the Republican base, which held it against him in the 2016 primaries, in which he saw his candidacy thwarted. Nearly eight years later, in an even more polarized country, friendly fire may once again catch up with Christie.
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