The Christie Endgame

Christie

Having decided that his path into the field of potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination runs through Mar-A-Lago and its lord of the manor, former Gov. Chris Christie has embarked on a speaking engagement and interview tour, beating up on his former friend and ex-president Donald Trump as an ego driven loser who, if not stopped, will destroy the party.

With more in the party shedding their fear of crossing the former president and now willing to speak out in opposition and with the big money donors turning away from him, though, sustaining Christie’s strategy over the long term is problematic.

By late spring or early summer of 2023 when the political world’s focus shifts sharply to the presidential election, odds will increase that Trump’s candidacy will flame out spectacularly and he will no longer be a candidate — at the very least, not a viable one whose shadow will cast a pall over the party’s chances of regaining the White House against a vulnerable incumbent.

As long as Trump’s candidacy remains viable, Christie’s crusade will attract media attention and take some of the sting out of his 2016 endorsement, including his pursuit of the vice presidential spot or appointment as U. S. Attorney General.

It is, though, a strategy with a “sell by” date dictated either by Trump’s voluntary withdrawal or a series of primary season defeats that humiliate and marginalize him and chase him out of contention.

With Trump’s departure, Christie will lose his support-me-because-I’m-not-him approach and will, of necessity, be expected to offer a vision and lay out a policy agenda which not only the Republican Party can buy into, but the American people as a whole can do so as well and differentiate him from the competition.

In the early handicapping of the field, Christie has failed to make the cut, overshadowed by Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

While it is a satisfying compliment to be mentioned, polling this far out isn’t particularly meaningful; more a measurement of name recognition than a sober assessment of one’s electoral strength or popularity.

Christie, who plays the “I’m thinking about it” card when asked about a candidacy, is not the only Trump critic, especially since the disappointing showing by Republicans who barely secured a slender majority in the House in the Congressional midterm election despite predictions of a blowout victory — an outcome widely blamed on Trump’s high profile involvement — but he’s been more blunt and direct in taking personal shots at his one-time pal.

As party figures in Congress and out have emerged to urge distancing from Trump and putting an end to his unhinged ranting over his 2020 defeat, Christie has taken aim at the former president’s massive ego — “it’s all about him,” he said.

History demonstrates that nothing enrages Trump more than portraying him as a failure and Christie’s recent description of him as “a loser” was clearly calculated to get under his skin.

Harsh reality may be thrust upon him, however, when his intimidation factor vanishes and when those who in the past wrote seven and eight figure checks have grown tired of the tumult and chaos and continue to look elsewhere.

His hardcore base will remain loyal, but his ability to control the narrative and block out the sun from shining on his competition will have diminished considerably.  The collective shrug drawn by the lackluster announcement of his candidacy was an early indication that the spark has dimmed and the excitement dampened.

He will not go easily or quietly, however, echoing his 2016 campaign when he was targeted by the other dozen or so in the field only to overcome all of them to win the nomination and pull off one of modern history’s most stunning upsets by defeating the heavily favored Hillary Clinton.

It is a vastly different environment now; he lost his bid for re-election and his belief his re-entry would clear the field failed to materialize.  He  sulked and pouted and his obsession with proving he was cheated out of victory in 2020 has driven him toward ever greater outlandish claims of fraud.

The specter of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U. S. Capitol still hangs over his head and his retention of officially classified documents after he left office place him in jeopardy of Federal indictment.   Other investigations into his personal and private business dealings are ongoing as well, an even greater threat of criminal charges.

Like the aging vaudevillians who insist on remaining on stage even though their entertainment value has disappeared, Trump’s act has grown thin, wearisome and embarrassing.

One can but speculate about Christie’s end game; whether he’ll enter the competition in the hope of achieving greater success than his long shot 2016 effort which ended after successive losses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary or if he will become a significant inside influencer charting the party’s direction and eventual choice of nominee.

He will have been out of public office for six years by the start of 2024 and would face the daunting task of building a national campaign infrastructure and fund-raising operation if he is to compete effectively in a multi-candidate primary season.

His desire to become Attorney General remains strong and a Republican elected president in 2024 with Christie’s help could satisfy that desire.

In the meantime, he’ll likely continue his verbal broadsides against Trump because there is simply no reason not to.  There is no turning back, no accommodations to be made, no deals to be struck, no cease fires to be negotiated.

The path Christie has chosen through Mar-A-Lago won’t be strewn with roses; rather, it will be littered with the casualties of a no quarter given take no prisoners struggle.

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

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2 responses to “The Christie Endgame”

  1. Former Governor Chris Christie is doing the nation as a whole a favor for speaking out about the hypocrisy that is Donald Trump.
    Between now and the Republican Convention in 2024,there may be one or two legal issues outstanding for former President Trump to re take the White House.

    But I support Chris Christie’s effort not only now but from the January 6th insurrection.

  2. The article is another left-wing propaganda rag by a left-wing media propaganda source that shows it’s Anti-Trump narcissism. I find it humorous (or humorless) that the author of the pseudo-article, Communist Carl Golden, says Trump’s candidacy will flame out in the summer of 2023. I guess over 100 MILLION people will change their minds that quick? I highly doubt it after the destruction and devastation that the Democrat-Communists and the Biden-Xi Administration Regime have done to the United States.

    It’s laughable how the left-wing Democrat-Communists like Golden and the rest of the NJ faux media and the Democrat Politicians are attacking Trump saying he’s a loser and he won’t make it past the summer of 2023. No Republican candidate, other than Gov. DeSantis, has shown an America First position like Trump. Pence is a failure, Pompeo is going nowhere, Nikki Haley tried once and was defeated badly. There really is nobody on the Republican side of the ledger that can take down Trump in the Primaries. DeSantis will stay as Florida Governor for his final term, and let Trump be President. Then in 2028 DeSantis will make a run and win. There are no Democrats that will be able to win with their Anti-American Communist agenda (other than by vote cheating). That’s why the left wing media and left-wing politics are so scared of Trump, and that’s why they’re fabricating stories that Trump won’t make it past 2023 or some such nonsense.

    Governor Christies is now a “has been” and persona non grata. Listening to him talk now shows that he’s nothing more than a bloviating, bitter political hack who can’t get any political traction anymore. Not even Republicans want him. The guy disgusts me because he’s an Anti-American bigot. He’s just another hack lawyer that was once a U.S. Attorney. That’s what amazes me. I’ve watched his career since I ran for U.S. Congress in the 8th District in 1990. He wasn’t that smart. He was just a loud-mouth who talked tough but had nothing to back it up.

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