In 2016, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was one of 17 Republicans in a crowded field trying to beat Donald Trump. We know how that movie ended. One of the hard won lessons of that primary, especially among Republicans, was that it was foolish not to unite right away behind the strongest candidate. If they had done that, perhaps Trump wouldn't have been the nominee and then the president.
Yet here we are in 2023 and we seem to be watching the same movie play out in real time, with 13 Republican candidates trying, once again, to outperform Trump in a crowded field.
One of those people, once again, is Chris Christie. But this time, he insists, he can write a new ending. Christie not only believes that he could win the nomination, but he believes he can win it by going toe to toe with Trump.
Christie's brand is the brash, straight-talking Jersey guy, and he's more than living up to his reputation. He's been absolutely brutal in his attacks on the former president, calling Trump a “lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog,” a “petulant child,” a “bitter, angry man,” and “the cheapest S.O.B I’ve ever met.”
This, as one would expect, has made him a liberal darling of sorts. At the same time, a lot of people think, too little, too late. For a long time, Christie was very much a Trump cheerleader. After Christie dropped out of the 2016 race, he was the first establishment Republican—and the first of any of the Republican governors or senators—to endorse Donald Trump, which a lot of people say helped launch Trump to the nomination. During Trump’s presidency, Christie said things about Trump like, “he’s not only a strong leader, but a caring, genuine and decent person” and “when he makes a promise, he keeps it.”
On today's show, I ask Governor Christie to explain himself. I ask him why he supported Trump in 2016 and again in 2020 and what finally led him to break ranks. I also ask him about whether this kind of rejection of Trump can resonate with a Republican base who doesn't seem to have moved on from Trump or Trumpism. And last, I ask him why he wants to be president of the United States in the first place.
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