All hail former New Jersey governor Chris Christie! He entered the 2024 GOP presidential primary with a Tuesday night town hall in Manchester, N.H. Almost nobody thinks he can win, but many weak-kneed anti-Trump Republicans hope he’ll do something almost just as good: Knock off Trump.
The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis offered maybe the best example of this wishful-thinking scenario: “While he will almost assuredly never win the presidency, Christie’s talent and toughness gives him the chance for something just as elusive: A heroic redemption.”
Ah yes, the Chris Christie who surrendered early in 2016, after he lost New Hampshire badly, endorsing Trump in an appearance that launched more than a thousand humiliating “Reek” memes from Game of Thrones. Good times. Not very heroic.
Lewis apparently forgot about that humiliation. He continued: “Consider Christie’s lived experience, and what you’ll find is a story tailor-made for an inspiring movie, starring an unlikely hero,” adding that Christie “missed his best chance to be president when he opted not to run in 2012.”
If your “best chance” would have been running against incumbent President Barack Obama, that means you had no chance at all, Chris. “Unlikely hero,” though, is accurate. He is unlikely to be a hero.
Christie came out on stage at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester Tuesday night taking himself oh so very seriously. The question he posed was: “Are we gonna be small, or are we gonna be big?” No joke here.
He continued: “America, for the first time in history, is getting smaller. Because we have leaders who are small. Small by the way of example…. they’re making us smaller by dividing us, into smaller and smaller groups…. Barack Obama made us small and Donald Trump made us smaller.” Despite his rationale as the anti-Trump, that was the only time he named the twice-impeached disgraced seditionist by name in the first 10 minutes of his speech. Which was the only time the national media paid attention.
He went on to praise Democrats FDR and JFK for going “big.” But Obama was “small.” Hmm…
“Beware of the leader in this country, who you have handed leadership to, who has never made a mistake, who has never done anything wrong, who—when something goes wrong—it’s always someone else’s fault, and who has never lost,” Christie said. I think he was trying to obliterate the 2014 Bridgegate scandal, and maybe his embarrassing 2016 primary loss? He’s shameless.
What really was a shame, though? Christie was so boring that CNN and Fox News cut away from him. (MSNBC never covered it live, probably the best choice.) His “big v. small” perseveration seemed weird and obsessive. He lingered too long on his favorite founding fathers, wondering what would have happened if they’d said, “Let’s just make a deal with the king?” That led to Christie’s truly apocalyptic alternatives: We’d all speak with a British accent! We’d have had to watch King Charles’s coronation last month!
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He is supposed to be a serious candidate, but he was weirdly riffing for most of his speech, trying to go down in history as serious, I guess, rather than as Reek.
Eventually he came back to Trump. He called him a “self-serving mirror hog.” He mocked him for promising to build the wall, trying to mimic Trump’s dead voice and failing. “I’m gonna build a wall,” he said, sounding instead like Barney the Dinosaur. He admitted that his goal is to wipe out Trump. “I am going to be very clear—I’m going out there to take out Donald Trump. But here’s why: I want to win, and I don’t want him to win. There is one lane to the Republican nomination, and he’s in front of it. And if you want to win, you better go right through him.”
I thought he got off his best lines about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. “The grift from this family is breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis. Do you think it’s because he’s some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it’s because he sat next to his father-in-law in the White House for four years doing favors for the Saudis? That’s your money he stole. You know what that makes us? A banana republic.”
I could stand to see more of that.
I never quote Trump from his hate-site Truth Social, but this time I can’t resist:
I think his anti-Trump GOP admirers tried to set Christie up as the guy who can save them from Trump, but the Chris Christie who showed up in New Hampshire tonight wanted to prove that he’s more than that: that he could really be president. He absolutely did not prove that he’s more than that—his event was boring and semi-embarrassing—but such is the state of the GOP primary race. Former vice president Mike Pence jumps in today, speaking of Reek. How will he obliterate those lasting images of the way he used to gaze lovingly at his former boss? He says he plans to appeal to our “better angels.”
Can it get any worse? Probably.