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Is Chris Christie Trumpy Enough to Take Down Trump?

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks poised to run for president in 2024 as a very Trumpy anti-Trump candidate.

SO WHAT

Can anyone out-Trump former President Donald Trump?

WHAT’S NEW

In an address last week at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library in California, Christie all but declared he was running to deny Trump a third-straight Republican presidential nomination.

Without actually naming Trump, Christie urged Republicans to accept the former president’s 2020 election loss and to reject “blind faith or obedience” toward their leaders.

  • He also presented himself as traditional Republican alternative to Trump, saying: “Reagan understood that telling the truth, standing up to lies, and pitching a big tent was a winning formula. I believe that is the advice he would give today.”

MORE TRUMPY THAN HE’D LIKE TO ADMIT?

Whatever their ideological differences, if Christie has any chance of being elected president in 2024 it’s probably thanks in part to his similarities to Trump.

  • Celebrity: Like Trump, Christie knows how to make headlines as both a TV personality and a politician.
  • Brashness: A fellow native of Manhattan’s hinterlands, Christie shares Trump’s talent for trash talking critics — like the “stupid” reporter and the “numb nuts” lawmaker who questioned him during his days as governor.
  • Ruthlessness: Christie is widely credited withtaking down the campaign of fellow 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., on a debate stage.
  • “MAGA” cred: Before he was anti-Trump, Christie worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns and led his White House opioid commission, for which many of the president’s critics won’t forgive him.

THE MAN OF THE MOMENT?

Beyond having made the right enemies, Christie has several advantages that he didn’t enjoy when Trump trounced him and everyone else in the 2016 GOP primary.

  • Preparation: In 2016, Christie held his fire against Trump until it was too late, but the governor is already gunning for the presumptive frontrunner ahead of the 2024 campaign.
  • Ammunition: Trump now has a political record, which Christie can try to weaponize along with any weaknesses he may have identified as a “MAGA” insider.
  • Focus: Whereas the 2016 primary field was crowded with 17 candidates, Trump’s strong hints that he plans to run again appear to be scaring off other top-tier Republican contenders.
  • Anger: Christie, whom Trump passed over for a top administration job, fully turned against his former boss after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

REALITY CHECK

Many have tried to recreate Trump’s political magic and none have so far succeeded.

  • Trump remains the dominant force in the Republican Party, while Christie doesn’t even show up on lists of candidates favored by voters or oddsmakers.
  • But, Christie can remind himself, nobody saw Trump coming either.

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