Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie filed paperwork Tuesday to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, positioning himself as an alternative to Donald Trump and someone who isn’t afraid of calling out the former president.
The 60-year-old former governor, who is known for his combative style, has signaled that his campaign will focus on challenging the GOP front-runner head-on, in marked contrast to other declared and would-be candidates in the race.
“I’m not dumb. The way to win is to beat the guy that’s ahead. And so what would a campaign look like? A campaign would look like a direct, frontal challenge to Donald Trump,” Christie said in a Dispatch podcast last month. “His presidency failed us.”
It’s unclear whether such a strategy can work in today’s Republican Party, however. Although there are some Republican voters who believe it’s time to turn the page on Trump, many still support him and believe he actually won the 2020 presidential election. In Congress, Trump has already won the endorsements of 11 GOP senators and dozens of House members.
Trump’s rivals often treat him like he doesn’t exist. They don’t bother mentioning his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection or his unprecedented effort to overturn an election he lost. They’ve also rallied to his defense after he was criminally charged in New York.
Christie abandoned his own presidential hopes early in the 2016 campaign and became one of the first big-name Republicans to endorse Trump. Trump said Christie would organize his presidential transition team, a role usually given to a vice-presidential pick, but then was sacked when Mike Pence was chosen as Trump’s running mate.
The New Jersey Republican has since become one of Trump’s vocal critics, lambasting him from his perch at ABC News where has worked as a commentator and in other interviews in recent weeks.
“All he wants to do is go back and re-prosecute the 2020 election because his feelings are hurt,” Christie said in an interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “He’s a child in that regard.”
Christie is one of three candidates jumping into the race this week. Former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will join former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, as well as a host of other candidates, is vying to lead their party in the 2024 general election.
But New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, another moderate critic of Trump, announced this week that he would not run for the GOP nomination.
“The stakes are too high for a crowded field to hand the nomination to a candidate who earns just 35 percent of the vote, and I will help to ensure this does not happen,” Sununu wrote in an opinion article published by The Washington Post.