Former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has announced his departure from the presidential race. This unexpected news came on a Wednesday evening and adds a new level of complexity to an already heated Republican competition. This could conceivably act as a catalyst for competitor Nikki Haley, potentially providing her with an opportunity to expand her support base at this critical juncture. The official declaration was made at what was initially defined as a town hall meeting for his campaign, located in Windham, NH, mirroring the location of his campaign’s initial launch back in June.
Christie had famously rooted the entirety of his campaign in New Hampshire, along with a staunchly anti-Trump sentiment. This sentiment was reiterated encore one last time as he calmly communicated his decision to bow out. ‘From the day I stepped into this contest, my choice was straightforward: losing with truth on my side, than attempting to deceitfully secure a victory,’ he imparted to the gathering of supporters at the town hall event. His resolve on this issue, he confirmed, had not changed.
‘My observation tonight is simple – there’s no viable route for me towards securing the nomination, which is why I’m pausing my crusade tonight,’ said Christie. He recognized this disheartening news would let down his loyal fanbase, both those present in the room and those scattered nationally. As he delivered this news, the room was filled with silent resignation, interspersed only by sighs of unspoken disappointment from his supporters.
‘I realize though, this is the correct direction for me,’ he continued. ‘I pledge this to you: I’ll ensure at all costs that under no circumstances does Donald Trump secure the presidency of United States once more. My personal ambitions pale in comparison to this promise.’ Christie owned a substantial group of backers in New Hampshire and recent data suggested he maintained a 12% approval rating in the GOP primary. Nonetheless, his trajectory seemed to have stabilized, far removed from the path towards a winning coalition that might have provided a direct threat to Trump.
Republican strategists asserted that Christie lacked the adequate support needed to secure a victory in this initial primary. They suggested his continued presence in the race might unintentionally advantage Trump as it divided votes amongst candidates with a realistic opportunity at dislodging him. This despite the fact that he had centered his campaign on opposing Trump. Opinion polling from the Boston Globe, USA Today and Suffolk University and countless interviews on the campaign track in recent months have indicated that Christie’s supporters may potentially shift their loyalties towards Nikki Haley, another former ambassador to the UN, in case he discontinued his campaign.
Haley and Christie share an array of policy perspectives and are viewed as comparatively moderate players when considered within the realm of GOP candidates. This has incurred burgeoning pressure on Christie to withdraw from his Haley supporters who perceive her as the last possible obstacle to Trump’s march towards the nomination. Christie for his part, initially brushed off these arguments including direct queries on why he persisted in this race at town halls in New Hampshire with recitations of Trump’s failures and insistence that he was the sole candidate to publicly condemn them.
Christie, when confronted with mounting calls to quit from party elites, rebutted them in a commercial aired in New Hampshire. His argument, more than anything else, seemed for the moral high ground, anchored in the annals of American history. These appeals posited that what is popular is not necessarily right, furthermore, while Trump may embody the former trait, he certainly lacks the latter.
The withdrawal of Christie arrives just hours away from the final Iowa debate that includes Nikki Haley and Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, and just days in advance of the Iowa Caucuses. It seems Christie’s downfall will have a lesser impact on the race in Iowa, a state where his campaign has lacked significant presence.
In the moments leading up to Christie’s official announcement on that Wednesday evening, his supporters had already started grappling with the loss. Merrimack resident Pamela Jones arrived at the town hall wearing a hoodie adorned with Christie’s name, hoping against prediction that her favored candidate was not bowing out. She had heard troubling whispers prior to the event and grappled with the possibility this could be the end.
Jones had previously changed her voter registration from Democrat to Non-Affiliated, just so she could cast her ballot in favor of Christie in the GOP primary. She expressed palpable sorrow over the turn of events. ‘I feel like tearing up and indeed, I will,’ she confided. The disappointment amplified because she seldom had a candidate she could passionately support. ‘Usually, I feel like I’m always voting against someone, but never really for someone. This will hurt quite a bit.’
Prior to his revelation, in a seemingly accidental broadcast moment, Christie was overheard saying that Haley was ‘gonna get smoked’. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s call to the departing candidate was also overheard, implying he was distinctly uneasy by the developments.
BREAKING: Chris Christie caught on Hot Mic prior to his announcement that he’s withdrawing from the race, taking jabs at Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis
“[Haley’s] going to get smoked”
“DeSantis called me, petrified”
— Real News Now (@RealNewsApp) January 10, 2024