Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday jumped into the 2024 presidential race, filing his official paperwork hours ahead of a planned launch event.
Christie has been blunt in his criticism of former President Donald Trump, who remains the Republican front-runner in the polls, and he’s likely to continue those lines of attack now that he’s in the race.
Christie directly took aim at the former president as he announced his candidacy during a town hall hosted at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester Tuesday night.
“The person I am talking about who is obsessed with the mirror? Who never admits a mistake? Who never admits a fault and will always find 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 said.
Speaking as a political analyst on ABC News’ “This Week” last month, Christie said GOP candidates can’t beat Trump by “cozying up to him.”
In 2016, Christie ran against Trump for the GOP nomination, but dropped out after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary. The two later became allies, with Christie heading up Trump’s presidential transition team until shortly after the election, and then working on debate preparations against Joe Biden in 2020.
But Christie emerged as a vocal GOP critic after Trump refused to concede his loss in 2020, instead espousing baseless claims of widespread election fraud.
“If he really cares about the country, then he’s going to get up there, and he shouldn’t be afraid,” Christie said.
“I’m sorry to see that Donald Trump feels like if he gets on the stage, he’s at risk of losing his lead,” he said. “If, in fact, his ideas are so great, if his leadership is so outstanding, then his lead will only increase if he gets on the stage, not decrease.”
Christie has also aired his grievances with the former president during several town hall meetings in the early primary state of New Hampshire in the past few months.
“Tonight is the beginning of the case against Donald Trump,” Christie said. “You’re not going to beat someone by closing your eyes, clicking your heels together three times and saying, ‘There’s no place like home.’ That’s not going to work.”
“Donald Trump is a TV star, nothing more, nothing less,” he added. “Let me suggest to you that in putting him back in the White House, the reruns will be worse than the original show.”
At another town hall in March, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Christie suggested that Trump’s 2024 challenger must have the “skill” to debate him, predicting that such a scenario is “not going to end nicely” for Trump.
Christie served two terms as New Jersey governor from 2010 to 2018. His tenure came under scrutiny during the so-called Bridgegate case, a political scandal in 2013 involving lane closures at the George Washington Bridge as alleged retaliation against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s re-election.
Following a federal investigation, Christie allies were sentenced to short prison terms in 2017 after a jury determined that they had shut down two of the three lanes leading to the bridge, resulting in a monumental traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey. (The Supreme Court later threw out the convictions.)
Before being elected governor, Christie served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 to 2008 under President George W. Bush.
Christie joins a field of at least eight candidates for the 2024 GOP nomination, including Trump, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce a potential bid on Wednesday.