Let The Real GOP Nomination Fight Begin

[ Posted Wednesday, May 31st, 2023 – 14:35 UTC ]

The dynamics of the Republican presidential nomination race are about to drastically change, from a contest where one candidate punches down on all the others (who are all mostly terrified to punch back in any meaningful way) to an actual political fight where at least one candidate in the race doesn't quiver in his boots at the thought of attacking the frontrunner as forcefully as he can. Because Chris Christie is about to make it official and jump into the race.

Axios got the scoop today, reporting that Christie will announce next Tuesday, in New Hampshire. From their blurb (it really can't be called "an article," it is so short), here is how the Christie team plans to run:

  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."

That's a pretty clear message to Donald Trump: Get ready, it's coming.

Christie, you might remember, was the original "tough guy" with a "New Jersey in-your-face attitude," back in the 2016 GOP nomination race. Even after Trump's entry (with his own "New York City" in-your-face attitude), Christie was doing better than Trump in the polls... for the first month, back in 2015. But polling at around five percent only put Christie in eighth place at the time, and once Trump's rise started everyone else fell by the wayside, one by one.

Trump essentially co-opted Christie's schtick. And he was far more entertaining at it, since he wasn't bound by any sort of reality or facts. Christie's trash-talk was more grounded, since Christie had much more political experience (not that it did him any good, in the end).

Back then, all the other candidates felt free to attack Trump. He hadn't yet cemented his hold on the base Republican voters. This time around, however, only one announced candidate (Asa Hutchinson) has been brave enough to directly challenge Trump's reality. Ron DeSantis is gingerly moving towards perhaps saying something obliquely negative about Trump, but he is obviously still terrified of a backlash from the MAGA contingent of the GOP base.

Christie is going to show no such fear. He's going to be the "happy warrior who speaks his mind, takes risks and is happy to punch Donald Trump in the nose." Whether Christie can land any of these punches remains to be seen, but he'll be the first to joyfully attempt it.

Christie is a unique candidate in many ways, and it must be admitted he faces rather dauntingly long odds to actually winning the nomination. The Republican base isn't very happy with Christie, to put it mildly. Christie has flip-flopped on Trump twice, which he will doubtlessly try to use to assuage some of the MAGA rage directed against him. After losing the 2016 race, he became an advisor to Trump (for a short period) but never convinced Trump to nominate him for Attorney General (reportedly the cabinet job he really had his heart set on). But January 6th was a bridge too far for Christie (pun intended), and after failing to reach Trump or any high-ranking White House official by phone during the insurrection attempt, Christie went on live television and begged Trump to call off the attackers. By doing so, Christie became one of the first (if not the first) former ally of Trump to denounce the actions of that day. Christie has been strongly anti-Trump ever since, but he can still claim (if he wants to) that he supported Trump's election in both 2106 and 2020 -- which might at least marginally help him with the GOP base.

Christie has since become a regular political commentator on ABC, and he has not been shy about saying that he thinks Donald Trump has disqualified himself from being president -- often in great detail. Christie is entering the race for two reasons, really -- a belief that he can win (which any candidate must have, at least at the start), and the knowledge that he'll be the best anti-Trump foil the party can put up.

Christie has one big thing going for him, and that is while he does have a rather vicious political fighting style, at other times he can also be cheerful and optimistic and positive about the future. Trump used to have this quality (to some degree or another), but has evolved into a purely negative and purely rage-filled political persona. Christie wants to show Republican voters that they can have a strong fighter, but one who nonetheless doesn't see everything as a fight to the bitter finish (and beyond).

Christie will enter the nomination race as almost certainly the best possible "Trump-slayer" the Republicans are going to see. Christie is not going to be afraid to call out Trump's lies, to his face if necessary. Most of the other candidates are too weak (both politically and psychologically) to ever attempt something this audacious. Christie will be able to take a punch from Trump as well -- which, again, will set him apart from the crowd. Christie will be unafraid to actually say Trump's name, which is something even Ron DeSantis still struggles with. And Christie doesn't mince words when calling Trump the one thing he hates and fears the most: a loser.

One way or another, Chris Christie will be an interesting addition to the Republican presidential race. A candidate who is "happy to punch Trump in the nose" (metaphorically, of course) is going to make for an entirely different dynamic from what the voters have so far seen. He'll also likely bring some humor to the contest, which has been sorely absent up to this point. Christie is smart -- much smarter than Trump. He's going to run on rather traditional conservative principles -- which have mostly been noticeable in their absence, ever since Trump hijacked the GOP and morphed it into a personality cult. Christie is a former federal prosecutor, so he'll have a rather informed perspective on any of Trump's future legal problems which may play out during the campaign.

And he is obviously champing at the bit to throw his hat in the ring. Consider, if you will, the symbolism of the timing of his announcement. Christie will make his announcement (according to Axios): "at a town hall at Saint Anselm College at 6:30 p.m. [Eastern Time] on Tuesday."

Next Tuesday is June 6th.

Which is also the 79th anniversary of D-Day.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


9 Comments on “Let The Real GOP Nomination Fight Begin”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    As a history teacher i have to appreciate the timing of the announcement.

  2. [2] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Christie will forever be blackballed by Republicans for publicly praising President Obama for his and his administration’s quick response in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He praised and thanked Obama, the Democratic candidate running against the GOP’s Mitt Romney, mere days before the election. It is frowned upon for a Republican to ever say something positive about any Democrat, but doing so that close to Election Day was nothing short of blasphemy for many Conservatives.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I wonder if Christie could get Jennifer Beals to narrate an "L-Word" anti trump commercial. She could list lots of lovely L-words that apply to Donald. Looney, lamebrain, liar, laughingstock, liability, and of course culminating in Loser.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Or if not Beals...

    there's always Maya Rudolph

  5. [5] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I don't think any of them have a chance against Trump especially as the field grows but what happens if one of these indictments puts him in the clink? A whole new ballgame and a Christie / DeSantis primary race could be quite interesting.

    I do think with DeSantis promising to rid this country of the left if elected, we have the moral right to massively advertise and campaign against DeSantis in the primary. And with little need do to incumbency, the left has a massive political campaign apparatus just sitting there...

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    If he promised to rid this country of Disney, I'd have to think about it

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:


    Christie, you might remember, was the original "tough guy" with a "New Jersey in-your-face attitude," back in the 2016 GOP nomination race.

    While we're taking this walk down Memory Lane for "tough guys," I would like to post a gentle reminder that in the eyes of many members of the MAGA and QAnon cults and just garden variety "normie" GOP, Chris Christie will forever and always be that guy who hugged Barack Obama just days before the 2012 election. Just saying.

    FUN FACT: Chris Christie didn't hug Obama. He shook his hand while Obama put his left hand on Christie's shoulder.

    So, to recap: Chris Christie will never be able to shake that "hug" he gave Obama due to the fact there are far too many right-wing nuts who see what they want to see... facts be damned. :)

  8. [8] 
    Kick wrote:


    Christie will forever be blackballed by Republicans for publicly praising President Obama for his and his administration’s quick response in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

    Exactly! And that hug. ;)


  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:


    Great idea!

    legally liable lowlife lewd lawbreaking loser

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