I know what you’re thinking – what the 2024 Republican presidential primary race needs more than anything is seeing more of Chris Christie to make it relevant and interesting.
If you’re the odd person out there who can’t seem to get enough of the wide screen presence of the brash-talking and swamp establishment-defending former Garden State chief executive, then you may soon be getting what you’re craving. On a recent media appearance, Christie hinted that he plans on stalking Donald Trump sometime soon unless the polling leader reverses his long-held position on appearing at party debates and shows up to take his share of supposedly “equal” time addressing current topics while standing beside his rivals.
“Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would follow former President Donald Trump ‘around the country’ if he doesn’t attend any of the upcoming Republican primary debates.
“Would Mr. Christie change his campaign travel schedule to go wherever Mr. Trump goes? ‘You bet,’ Mr. Christie told host Howard Kurtz on Fox News’ ‘MediaBuzz.’ Mr. Christie said on the Fox News show that he’s ‘sure he’s not coming to the Reagan debate.’
“’We’ll give him another chance in Alabama,’ Mr. Christie said, referencing the third debate to be held at the University of Alabama. ‘But if he doesn’t come there, then I’m going to follow him around the country. Wherever he goes, I’ll go. And, we’ll wind up talking to each other one way or another.’”
I wouldn’t bet on it, Chris. First of all, most conservative voters are ignoring you and wouldn’t be inclined to listen to what you have to say much less make an effort to come see you as you shadowed a Trump event. Sure, a Christie appearance could drum up a token of local coverage and maybe Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” would send a camera crew to film you griping about how Trump won’t answer your attacks, but beyond that… well…
If Christie does intend to be a political stalker, he’d best find a wide building to hide behind. Or a redwood tree. Or a tractor trailer. Or the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just saying. I must admit, if I were a politician and I got word that I was about to be “stalked” by Chris Christie, I’d be a little apprehensive, and a tad enthused, at the same time.
Why? Chris Christie probably can’t run very fast, but he sure makes a ruckus wherever he goes. Trump should be excited about the publicity that Chris’s “stalking tour” generates, though here’s guessing the rotund one tires of the gambit and goes away after a stop or two. What’s Chris going to do, bribe a Trump staffer to release his schedule a day or so in advance so the Christie chuckwagon could be redirected to a new location?
Based on Christie’s threat, what if Trump decided he wouldn’t visit New Hampshire until Christie stops shadowing him and thus takes away the former New Jersey governor’s greatest excuse for staying in the race? It doesn’t make sense what Christie is doing, and I doubt Trump would see it as anything more than a pesky annoyance.
But I also empathize with Christie in one sense. With Trump having opened a gigantic and growing lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of the Republican announced hopefuls, the only way to conceivably draw notice for a second or third tier candidate like Christie is to somehow be associated with the frontrunner. Naturally, a debate stage is the best way to do it, hopefully standing in the same vicinity as Trump so Chris can lean over his podium, point his finger and say something clever that might get Trump agitated enough to knock him off his own “game”, so to speak.
It's precisely to stave off the possibility of Christie throwing rhetorical punches that’s motivated Trump to say he’s not going to any of the debates, which certainly isn’t making the TV news people happy. One single two-hour “debate” can supply a week’s (or more) worth of soundbites, and without Trump there, the odds of obtaining something usable goes down exponentially. What’s a TV talker to do, try and throw red meat between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy again in hopes of forcing another flare-up?
The 2016 Republican debates were worth watching to see how Trump would embarrass Jeb Bush again, or to determine if the lifelong real estate developer and reality TV star actually had specific proposals to govern the country – something other than, “It’s going to be yyyyuuuuggee…”
With the Democrats not offering counterprogramming to the somewhat scarce Republican debate offerings, there hasn’t been a whole lot of back-and-forth between the political forces competing for the White House recently. Senile Joe Biden must be hiding in the White House basement this time, as the most newsworthy thing he’s done in months was declaring the other day (in Vietnam, of all places) that the greatest threat to humanity’s future isn’t nuclear war – it’s “climate change”.
Can’t you just hear the Iranians, Russians, North Koreans and Chinese, et al. laughing at us right now?
I don’t know if it’s by design or whether it’s an accumulation of events surrounding his legal troubles, but Trump has been relatively quiet of late. Rather than take his show on the road for a series of mass rallies, the former president has mostly settled for sending out posts on Truth Social, or, like last weekend, showing up at the Iowa/Iowa St. football game. There’s been surprisingly little buzz emanating from the campaign itself.
I heard someone say the other day that this is the dullest political horserace ever. It’s like watching one horse during a training session with the others running at full gallop on a separate track. There hasn’t been much talk of running “lanes” lately since the “Trump lane” is taking up all the space. The rest are confined to vying for the tidbit of establishment support, and, of course, the anyone-but-Trump space.
Chris Christie has one foot in the establishment lane and the other in the anyone-but-Trump lane. If Trump were to leave the race tomorrow, for whatever reason, would Christie stay in, or, having accomplished his stated goal – to prevent Trump from ever being president again – would he simply pack up his snack bag and head off to MSNBC or some other anti-MAGA outlet to loft bombs at conservatives?
It's safe to say, when a good many conservatives called for a competitive primary race in 2024 – so that Trump would need to remain sharp and issue focused – they didn’t envision someone like Chris Christie tossing his hat into the ring just to sustain his oversized (pardon the pun) ego. Christie’s political ship sailed long ago – many say it was 2012 when he opted out of challenging Barack Obama, leaving the GOP stuck with loser Mitt Romney – so it’s still not clear why he’s even doing a campaign.
If it could be said that Nikki Haley ran this time because there wasn’t another prominent woman to diversify the Republican field, what group does Christie represent? All we’ve been hearing for the past three years is how Trump is unelectable because of his personal antics, so Chris wasn’t needed to keep pointing it out. Who knows, perhaps Christie’s there because Liz Cheney didn’t carry through with her hints about running to prevent Trump from representing the party again.
Whatever the reason – it doesn’t need rehashing again – it’s hard to see how Christie’s “stalking” idea would influence Trump’s decision to participate in the upcoming debates. Christie can set up his tent outside the studio where Trump is being interviewed or across the street from a rally and it still wouldn’t guarantee the confrontation that big Chris seeks. Trump could feel free to ignore Christie all he wants and no one would be the wiser.
At the same time, I can understand Christie’s – and the others’ – frustrations with Trump. The polling leader’s refusal to directly engage on the issues the voters care about the most must be maddening. Equally irritating are the random tweets (X – is it still called a Tweet?) and TRUTH posts where critiques and jabs don’t come with a chance for rebuttal.
As has been suggested numerous times in this space, Trump’s digs at Ron DeSantis have been particularly unfair and unnecessary – at times. It’s understandable how Trump sees DeSantis as a competitor in a contest he’s participating in, but the former president shouldn’t stoop to personal insults to get his message across. With such a large lead, Trump should concentrate his efforts on unifying the GOP at this point. Joe Biden looks vulnerable, but that’s no reason to let up on the intensity.
Insulting Chris Christie is certainly fair game after all Christie’s said about Trump. Christie knows he has no chance at the Republican nomination. He’s just there to wound Trump and help the Democrats. I haven’t looked, but who are Christie’s major donors? Do they also dump money into the Democrats’ pockets?
No one can fault Chris Christie for trying to draw more attention to himself and his bash-Trump message, but goading the frontrunner and promising to stalk him wherever he goes isn’t likely to do much good for the all-antagonism-all-the-time establishment candidate. Christie doesn’t have a defining characteristic other than being a Trump-hater. That’s good enough for the former president’s enemies but doesn’t do a whole lot for everyone else.
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