Chris Christie And The Politics Of Pursuit

Former EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg wonders if former Gov. Chris Christie would be a good choice after President Donald Trump passed over Congressman John Ratcliffe for the position of Director of National Intelligence.

Classic literature and pop culture have given us compelling tales of obsessive pursuit, of driven, single-minded individuals determined to corner and capture their quarry.


Captain Ahab chasing the white whale across the globe’s oceans.

Inspector Javert following Jean Valjean through the labyrinth of sewers beneath the streets of Paris.

Police Lt. Philip Gerard tracking “The Fugitive” across theater and television screens.

Wile E. Coyote trailing the roadrunner through desert, canyon and mountain.

Elmer Fudd seeking to entrap Bugs Bunny.

With his announced intention to follow former President Trump around the country hoping to confront him personally, former New Jersey Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has joined Ahab, Javert, Gerard, Coyote and Fudd on his own quest to corner him and force a public encounter.

It is yet another turn in what has become one of the wackiest presidential campaigns by both parties in modern history.

Christie intends to synchronize his campaign GPS with Trump’s if the ex-president and current runaway leader for the nomination is a no show at the second candidates’ debate on Set. 27 in California and a third scheduled for later this year in Alabama.

He’s already skipped the first in Milwaukee last month and appears ready to decline whatever remains in the debate schedule.

If Trump carries through on his threat, Christie promised “Wherever he goes, I’ll go and we’ll wind up talking to each other one way or the other.”

As a sustainable campaign strategy, it has little to recommend it.

Trump ignored the initial debate and suffered no consequences and, as he maintains a 40-point lead in the contest for the nomination, there is no reason to believe he’ll incur any significant damage by refusing to participate in future face offs.

He continues as well to hold either a slight within the margin of error lead over President Biden or locked in a statistical tie.

Christie has spent nearly every hour of every day since he launched his campaign in June on the attack against Trump, utilizing media interviews and his social media platform to pepper him relentlessly with assaults on his character, intellect, honesty, abrasive personality,  first term failures and his drawbacks as a candidate while predicting a landslide loss for the Republican Party if Trump leads the ticket in 2024.

Aside from setting himself apart from the rest of the field as the most anti-Trump contender, his barrage hasn’t been of much help. While Trump has responded occasionally with broadsides of his own against Christie, he’s treated him more like a thorn in his side rather than a dagger at his throat.

In the Real Clear Politics polling average, Christie is slightly above three percent — good for sixth place — and has demonstrated little upward movement.

It is unlikely that setting himself up as a one man truth squad to trail Trump around the country will produce any breakout change in polling support.

Christie has boasted often that he’d mop the floor with his one time friend and confidante in a head to head debate and there’s ample evidence that the former governor is far more adept in that format than any of the others, including Trump.

While that is certainly true, it accomplishes nothing toward breaking the vise-like grip Trump has maintained on the Republican voter base.

Facing four criminal indictments — two state and two Federal — and spending the spring and summer of 2024 occupying a seat at the courtroom defense table has failed to shake the devotion of his supporters.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once seen as the party savior who could overtake Trump while convincing the others to coalesce behind his candidacy and mount a serious challenge to a vulnerable and weakened incumbent president, has been a major disappointment.

He is the only Republican in the field polling in double digits, but — at 40 points behind — his standing is meaningless.

Trump’s decision to decline debate participation is understandable, a manifestation of the belief that with a lead as large and as apparently solid as he enjoys, it would be foolish to draw a crowd for the competition.

While his competition swaps support levels, moving a positive or negative point or two to secure fourth or fifth place, Trump has taken on an aura of inevitability, producing a growing resignation on the part of his opposition that with less than five months before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, the outcome is cast.

Should Christie carry out his threat to dog Trump’s footsteps around the country and succeed in confronting him, it will make for riveting theater but is unlikely to fulfill the goals of his campaign team — move the numbers.

Christie’s unpopularity in the Republican base is deep and taking on Trump in what would certainly be a chaotic public scene will do nothing to quell the anger directed toward him.

Christie is not normally given to idle boasts and his intention to alter his own campaign schedule in favor of pursuing Trump should not be taken lightly or dismissed as a desperate last minute gimmick.

Success, though, is highly problematic, much the same as the outcomes that befell his fellow in arms pursuers in literature and theater.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.   

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4 responses to “Chris Christie And The Politics Of Pursuit”

  1. Chris Christie is “Batman’s” Joker of New Jersey. I was watching him on MSLSD and he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. I’m paraphrasing here, but one time he equates Trump to a Fascist (read: Hitler), while the very next sentence, he praises him. Christie is the consummate lawyer and politican–Speaks out of both sides of the mouth.

    You can’t believe anything Christie says. He says Trump was a bad President that didn’t accomplish anything. I don’t know what planet Christie was living on during the Trump Administration, but my guess would have to be Uranus. Trump not only checked all the dictators and bad guys for 4 years, he turned the U.S. into an energy dominant nation, the strongest military on the planet with new state-of-the-art and futuristic military equipment being made and implemented, favorable trade arrangements with countries that were our trading adversaries, i.e., Red China, Russia, etc.

    Christie has done none of this. He has no domestic policy–other than attack another Presidential candidate–and he has no foreign policy. One wonders if Christie’s foreign policy is the same as Joe Biden’s–taking payoffs from our adversaries to get Trump. I would watch Christie over the next month or so. He’s going to implode and lose his mind, if not dropping dead on stage from his inability to close his pie hole at the dinner table.

  2. christie is a bad actor….been telling everyone since a kid he was going to be president…bridgegate…..why doesn’t he take a lie detector test once and for all? yeah i didnt think he would.he is a fraud big mouth. read his history….never to be trusted.

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