NEW YORK (AP) — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to launch his bid for the Republican nomination for president at a town hall in New Hampshire on Tuesday evening.
The campaign will be the second for Christie, who lost to Trump in 2016 and went on to become a close on-and-off adviser before breaking with the former president over his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election. He has cast himself as the only candidate willing to directly take on former President Donald Trump.
Christie will enter a growing primary field that already includes Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Former Vice President Mike Pence will be formally launching his own campaign in Iowa on Wednesday.
Christie, who during his time as New Jersey’s governor established a reputation as a fighter with a knack for creating viral moments of confrontation, faces an uphill battle to the nomination in a party that remains closely aligned with the former president, despite Trump’s reelection loss in 2020 and Republicans’ poorer-than-expected showing in the 2022 midterm elections.
Christie has cast himself as the only person with the guts to take on Trump directly and has warned of a repeat of 2016 if candidates fail to confront him.
“I’m not dumb. The way to win is to beat the guy who’s ahead. And so what would a campaign look like? A campaign would look like a direct frontal challenge to Donald Trump trying to return to the presidency,” Christie recently said in a podcast interview.
Anti-Trump Republicans are particularly eager to see Christie spar with Trump on a debate stage — if, of course, Trump agrees to participate in primary debates and Christie meets the stringent fundraising criteria set by the Republican National Committee for participation.
But Christie has also said he would not run as a kamikaze candidate to take down Trump if he didn’t believe there was a viable path to his own victory. “I’m not a paid assassin,” he recently told Politico.
His campaign will test the appetite among Republican voters for someone who has expressed support for many of Trump’s policies but has criticized the former president’s conduct.
Christie has rejected Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen and has urged the party to move on or risk future losses.
Other Republicans with similar views, including former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, have opted against their own campaigns, expressing concerns that having more candidates in the race will only benefit Trump.