And then there were 11 (Republican candidates for the presidential nomination)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie launched his 2024 presidential campaign in New Hampshire on Tuesday with a sharp-tongued assault on the frontrunner, calling Trump a “lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog.”
Christie's direct assault distinguishes him from other GOP contenders, who prefer alluding to Trump without mentioning him by name. Another sampling:
“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.”
Christie also lashed out at the larger Trump political-financial enterprise: "The grift from this family is breathtaking. It’s breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis?” That's a reference to a $2 billion investment made by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund into a private equity fund launched by Kushner after he left government.
Christie faulted Trump for having "“made us smaller by dividing us even further and pitting us one against the other.” He said President Biden was guilty of the same divisiveness, while also being "out of his depth" and "not the guy he used to be" -- a thinly-veiled reference to the 80-year-old's manifest mental decline. Trump is 76.
Donald Trump is rattled by Chris Christie’s entering the race. Christie knows best how to prosecute the case against crooked Trump.— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) June 7, 2023
In response, Trump is body-shaming Christie. How pathetic coming from Trump. pic.twitter.com/y0O1hGUvTL
Sixty-year-old Christie joins other younger challengers for the GOP nomination: former South Carolina governor and Trump UN ambassador Nikki Haley is 51, current SC Senator Tim Scott is 57 and biopharma entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is a barely-legal 37. The Democrats all skew older: Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is 69 and author Marianne Williamson is 70. Mike Pence, 64, is scheduled to announce his own candidacy in Iowa on Wednesday.
What kind of policies would a President Christie give us? As a moderate Republican, it's safe to assume he'd be a reliable servant of the military-industrial complex while giving lip service to fiscal responsibility as he compromises with Democrats to keep the federal government steaming relentlessly to fiscal disaster.
After his failed 2016 presidential run, Christie was head of Trump's transition team before he was demoted and replaced by Pence in the aftermath of New Jersey's "Bridgegate" scandal. That affair featured politically motivated closures of the George Washington Bridge perpetrated by Christie allies to punish Fort Lee's mayor for failing to endorse Christie. Prosecutors declined to pursue charges against Christie, but three of his cronies were found guilty.
Many Trump foes long to see the pugnacious Christie take him on in GOP debates, the first of which is set for August 23rd in Milwaukee, which will also host the 2024 GOP convention. However, two things stand in the way of that scenario. First, Trump would have to agree to participate, and he's already questioned the notion given his huge lead in the polls.
Second, Christie would have to meet the GOP's debate qualifications. That means garnering contributions from 40,000 donors and receiving 1% support in polls, with various ways to hit that target, to include hitting 1% in two of the early-primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
Christie is currently at 1% in the Real Clear Politics average, compared to 53.2% for Trump, 22.4% for DeSantis, 4.4% for Haley, 3.8% for Pence, 2.6% for Ramaswamy and 1.6% for Scott.
A New York Times reporter noted that the audience for Christie's launch announcement "appeared to be almost entirely independent voters. Registered Republicans were hard to find."