RYE, N.H. ― Chris Christie took his “Donald Trump-is-unfit-for-the-presidency” campaign message back to New Hampshire Monday night, telling a crowd of 150 voters that “we should have a higher bar for president of the United States of America.”
Christie cited the first primary debate last month in which six of the eight Republicans on stage raised their hands when asked if they would support the former president if he is the nominee but has been convicted of a felony by then.
“I will never raise my hand that it’s okay that a convicted felon can be president,” Christie said to applause.
While most of the 2024 field has avoided attacking Trump, who continues to command the personal loyalty of a large slice of the Republican primary electorate, Christie has made the front-runner’s behavior after the 2020 election through the Jan. 6, 2021, a focal point of his campaign.
He said he understands that Trump remains the polling leader, and then predicted that would likely continue right up to the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 6. “I will not lead New Hampshire in one poll, not one, until the election. Not until election night,” he said. “In the same way that John McCain didn’t lead in one poll in 2000 until he beat George W. Bush by 18 points on primary night.”
Christie spoke to an audience of about 150 at a candidates’ series hosted by Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts who served as ambassador to New Zealand under Trump. Brown is holding his “No BS” barbecues for the 2024 presidential field, as he did in 2016. One for South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott last week drew 350 people, Brown said.
Christie previously ran for president in 2016. He dropped out after a poor showing in New Hampshire and became a key early endorser of the real estate developer turned game show host.
He then ran Trump’s transition team and continued advising him throughout his presidency, even helping him prepare for the fall debates against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
But Christie has said, and alluded again Monday, that Trump’s lies about the 2020 election that ultimately led to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol ― which then Trump did nothing to stop for three full hours ― made him break with the former president for good.
Speaking on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Christie cited them in his criticism of the GOP’s “American First” isolationist wing. “A day like today, we remember that even though we are guarded by two oceans, we are not invulnerable,” he said, again defending his support for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion. “America, walking backward on our heels, does not make ‘America First.’”