Chris Christie has dropped out of the race for president, the New Jersey Republican announced during a New Hampshire town hall.
“It’s clear to me tonight that there isn’t a path for me to win the nomination, which is why I’m suspending my campaign for president of the United States,” he said.
Christie doubled down on his anti-Trump rhetoric, blasting the “cowardice and hypocrisy” of Republicans who publicly support the former president but privately criticize him. He added that he regretted endorsing Trump in 2016 after dropping out of that race.
“Anyone unwilling to say [Trump] is unfit for the President of the United States is unfit to serve themselves,” he said.
He said he had resisted calls to drop out of the race until now because, unlike other candidates, he was “fighting for something bigger than ourselves.”
Christie did not endorse fellow 2024 Republican candidates Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, criticizing both for saying they would support Trump as the GOP nominee during a Republican debate last year. But in an apparent hot-mic moment before the announcement, Christie — seemingly referring to Haley, who comes in second place to Trump in polls — said “she’s gonna get smoked” and that “she’s not up to this.”
Christie’s campaign did not immediately reply to Semafor’s request for clarification on his comments.
As Christie spoke in New Hampshire, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy informed a crowd in Marshalltown, Iowa that the former governor was dropping out.
“Yeah, whatever, who cares about that,” said Ramaswamy, before warning that the Republican establishment was consolidating behind its “puppet,” Haley.
Anti-Trump Republican pressured Christie to drop out, back Haley
Christie, who built his campaign around attacking former President Donald Trump, was pressured by several anti-Trump Republican donors and strategists to drop out, The New York Times reported. Christie had endorsed Trump in 2016, but recently said that the Republican frontrunner “acts like someone who wants to be a dictator.” Republicans wanted Christie to quit the race and back former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, showing how Trump is once again benefiting from a crowded primary field. “Time is a flat circle, and everyone insists we relive, beat for beat, the 2016 election,” one Republican strategist told the Times.
Single-state strategy might have been Christie’s downfall
Christie’s strategy of focusing just on one state — New Hampshire — put him in a “hard position,” one GOP strategist told Politico. Christie’s support base there was made up largely of Trump-skeptical independents or Democrats, The Washington Post reported, posing a challenge in a Republican primary. Even before launching his bid, Christie visited New Hampshire to rebrand himself through his frankness and criticism of his rivals “with his trademark New Jersey trash talk,” Semafor’s Shelby Talcott reported at the time. But he continued to lag in the polls there behind Trump and Haley, and almost missed out on qualifying for the final GOP debate.