Donald Trump may be killing it in the polls for the 2024 Republican primary, and yet he keeps amassing adversaries. So far eight other conservatives have thrown their hat in the ring — and borne the brunt of Trump’s fury and dunking. But when Chris Christie formally announces his campaign next Tuesday, it sounds like he’ll be openly asking for a fight with his old pal-turned-adversary.
The former New Jersey governor has a bumpy past with Trump. He ran against him in 2016, but his campaign quickly flamed out. He transitioned into an ally, and he even served on his transition team in the early days of his lone term in office. But after the Jan. 6 riot, Christie turned on him and has set his sights on saving the Republican Party from MAGA wackos.
That’s evident from a three-point strategy Christie’s campaign sent Axios:
1. Being joyful and hitting a more hopeful note aimed at America’s “exhausted majority.”
2. Being authentic—a happy warrior who speaks his mind, takes risks and is happy to punch Donald Trump in the nose. Christie’s recent interviews and New Hampshire town halls aim to recapture the brio of his 2009 governor’s race.
3. Running a national race—“a non-traditional campaign that is highly focused on earned media, mixing it up in the news cycle and engaging Trump,” an adviser said. “Will not be geographic dependent, but nimble.”
The language — “engaging Trump” — may be relatively soft. But given how terrified so much of the GOP is of riling Trump and/or his base, even “engaging” him sounds fearless.
One of Christie’s allies was a little more forthright while daring not to speak his name. On Tuesday The New York Times reported on the Christie-focused Super PAC that was recently launched, called Tell It Like It Is. According to Brian Jones, the political strategist leading it, the ex-governor is “willing to confront the hard truths that currently threaten the future of the Republican Party.”
It’s a wink-wink statement, but no one, not even Trump’s most ardent supporters, would fail to guess who Jones is subtweeting.
Will Christie prove the most openly anti-Trump Republican contender? Seems like it, though surely a coterie of voters still haven’t gotten over Bridgegate.