Christie, in New Hampshire, Reconnects With 2016 Supporters

ROCHESTER, N.H. — Don’t ask Chris Christie what “lane” there is for him in the Republican primary. Don’t ask how someone polling at 1 percent, who is sharply critical of Donald J. Trump, could possibly win the 2024 nomination when the party base has no tolerance for attacks on the former president.

“I think there’s this fiction about lanes,” Mr. Christie said on Thursday in New Hampshire, his second exploratory visit in a month. “There is one lane, OK? There are not multiple lanes. At the front of that lane right now is Donald Trump. If you want to win the Republican nomination for president, you have to beat Donald Trump and get to the front of that lane.”

Mr. Christie, the former two-term governor of New Jersey and unsuccessful 2016 presidential candidate, was visiting the Republicans’ first primary state as part of a trial period that he said would culminate by mid-May in a decision about a 2024 run.

He spoke to a small group of reporters who came to observe him in a discussion with a dozen people at a residential treatment program for drug-addicted pregnant women. Addiction is an issue Mr. Christie has long been passionate about, and he visited the same program, Hope on Haven Hill, eight years ago while running for president. “I thought before Covid that this is the public health crisis of our generation, and I’m even more convinced now the Covid has passed that it is,” he told the group.

Afterward, he portrayed the visit as an exercise in reconnecting with people who had supported his 2016 campaign, which ended abruptly after his sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, despite intensive campaigning in the state. He also met this week in Washington with former donors and campaign employees to gauge their reactions to a new run.

It’s clear that Mr. Christie sees potential in being the most outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, whom he has bashed over 2020 election lies as well as for Republican defeats in the past three national elections.

But that tack may be a losing proposition. Republicans have been abandoning the most prominent Trump alternative, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, to rally around the former president. A poll this week of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Mr. DeSantis falling to 22 percent, from 43 percent in a January survey by the same pollster. Mr. Trump far outdistanced rivals, at 42 percent. Mr. Christie was at 1 percent.

“I don’t think that anybody is going to beat Donald Trump by sidling up to him, playing footsie with him and pretending that you’re almost like him,” Mr. Christie said. “I’m going to tell people the facts about his presidency and about his conduct. If they decide they want that again, that’s up to them.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Match in All-Black Ensembles at Ralph Lauren’s California Show Shelton announces he’s leaving ‘The Voice’ after 23rd season Biden says he figures Putin won’t utilize atomic weapons, yet taking steps to do so is ‘untrustworthy’ The Cowboys beats the Commanders 9 Pet-Friendly Hotels USA: That Pets and Humans Will Love