MANCHESTER, New Hampshire—Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday officially joined 1o other Republicans looking to clinch the party’s nomination for the presidency.
Christie, in making his second bid for the White House since his failed run in 2016, made the announcement on June 6 in New Hampshire—considered the make-or-break state for presidential candidates.
The state has an unloosened grip on its longstanding First In The Nation (FITN) Primary status.
In leading up to the announcement, the 60-year-old, two-term governor and former federal prosecutor, wasted no time attacking former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican primary.
Calling Trump “a self-serving mirror hog,” and later a “narcissist” “and a bitter angry man who wants retribution for himself,” Christie cautioned the audience of 200 to “beware of a leader that never made a mistake, never did anything wrong; and when something goes wrong, it’s someone else fault.”
He earned laughs when he added—”and who has never lost.”
Christie also poked fun at Trump’s campaign platform to build a wall on the U.S.–Mexican border and his vow to get Mexico to pay for it.
“We haven’t gotten one peso,” he said.
Christie, who has adopted a “Tell It Like It Is” campaign slogan didn’t mention “Bridgegate” in his initial remarks. The issue came up two hours into his town hall when an audience member asked the former governor what he considered his biggest mistake as an elected official.
Christie immediately named the bridge scandal, calling it “humiliating” and the biggest shock of his life. He said the scandal “cost him a lot” including his credibility.
The 2013 scandal left Christie plagued for years with the suspicion that he lied about his involvement in shutting down lanes during rush hour traffic on the heavily congested George Washington Bridge leading into New York as political payback to a Democrat mayor who didn’t endorse his re-election campaign.
In what was one of the last questions of the long night, Christie was asked if he would pardon Trump should he ever be indicted. Christie said if the case was thoroughly prosecuted, “he can’t imagine pardoning him.”
“I find him straightforward,” former New Hampshire state Rep. J.P. Marzullo told The Epoch Times, who said he admires Christie for being a successful Republican in a blue state like New Jersey.
Marzullo agreed Trump is too divisive. He supported the MAGA president in the past, but said he is looking for someone who can “bring both parties together.”
He has also already ruled out Pence because his bad blood with Trump will be too much of a distraction in the primaries.
New Hampshire residents Nancy Ryan, a registered Democrat, and Marie Mulroy, an Independent, both told The Epoch Times, that they like Christie, because he actually interacts with voters.
“I feel like most of the other candidates are rehearsed,” said Mulroy, “Christie feels more genuine.”
Ryan, who attends all the primaries to raise awareness about breast cancer, said that she finds DeSantis too standoffish.
“He doesn’t take questions from the general audience and seems to only shake hands with VIPs,” she said.
All three said they believe that Christie’s Bridgegate scandal “was too long ago” to matter anymore.
A federal investigation concluded that two members of Christie’s administration orchestrated the 2013 shutdown as a punishment to Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election campaign.
During the trial, both prosecutors and defense attorneys alleged that Christie at the very least knew of the scheme.
Christie has always denied any knowledge or involvement.
The Bridgegate trial took place at the height of the 2016 primary season hitting Christie, considered a formidable contender in the race, with a deep dive in support. He ended up dropping out of the race.
Christie, the first major politician to endorse Trump himself, blamed the scandal on Trump’s decision to withdraw the offer of vice president to him.
After a surprise upset against Hillary Clinton, Trump went on to win the presidency with Pence instead as his vice president.
In his 2019 book “Let Me Finish,” Christie heavily criticized the Trump administration and the president’s inner circle for what he described as an underestimated lack of experience in policymaking.
In 2019, Christie released another book entitled “Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden.”
The book attacks liberal media as well as conservative theorists including QAnon supporters.
Christie has some high waves to overcome in order to rise to the top of the pool in the growing sea of Republican candidates.
Even if he can win over enough Trump supporters to bump him off the ticket, he still has to get past DeSantis, who is already showing an ability to attract both progressives and hard-right conservatives.
Other contenders include former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, Texas pastor and businessman Ryan Binkley, and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson.
North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum is expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on June 7, which would make it a full dozen on the GOP ticket. There were at least that many early on in the primaries.
Christie announced his White House bid at a Town Hall style meeting at St. Anselm College in Manchester, the state’s largest city.
While the Democratic National Convention under the lead of Biden has voted in a primary schedule that knocks out New Hampshire’s FITN status, state Republicans have vowed to ignore the schedule.
The New England state has officially been first since 1920.
Since that time, several candidates who won the state primary have gone on to become president. On the Republican side, they include Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
On the Democratic side, they include Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and John F. Kennedy.
Biden did not win the New Hampshire primary but gained momentum after winning the South Carolina primary, which he has chosen on the new calendar to be the first in the nation.
Christie’s announcement follows a May 30 poll by Monmouth University showing he is the least favored candidate out of the front contender Republicans.
The poll showed Trump with 77 percent favorability, DeSantis with a 70 percent, while Christie won only a 21 percent favorability rating from the 655 Republicans that participated in the poll.
From The Epoch Times