It’s Time for Chris Christie to Drop Out of the 2024 Race

No point in going on.
Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Look, it’s a free country. And all other things being equal, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has every right to humiliate himself with a doomed presidential campaign that is only even remotely viable in one state, New Hampshire.

But when a campaign comes into direct conflict with its ostensible goal, a reconsideration is in order. As most of us concluded weeks if not months ago, the effect of a Christie candidacy is basically to keep a more viable non-Trump candidate, Nikki Haley, from a potential breakthrough in New Hampshire that would give her a distant chance of posing a real challenge to Donald Trump’s nomination. Since the prime directive of Christie ’24 is allegedly to save the GOP from the 45th president, it no longer makes any sense for him to stick around and take up oxygen in the very crowded room of a Granite State primary campaign.

Despite many years in the national spotlight, Christie is a nonentity in the national GOP contest, coming in at 2.9 percent and a poor fifth place in the RealClearPolitics polling averages. The only place he’s close to double digits is in New Hampshire, where he developed a presence by running in 2016 (dropping out, BTW, after finishing sixth there). But in the polls taken there since August, Christie is invariably running behind Haley, who, unlike Christie, is an actual national candidate who will finish second or third in Iowa and probably first or second in South Carolina if she puts a scare into Trump in New Hampshire. The only way that can happen is for Haley to win over a sizable portion of the Christie — and if he’s still in the race the Ron DeSantis — vote to reduce the current 25-point Trump lead.

That appears to have been the calculation behind New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu’s endorsement of Haley on December 12. And now, predictably, voices are being raised wherever Never Trumpers gather to urge Christie to get the hell out of the race, notes Politico:

Christie’s rationale for staying in the race has been significantly weakened — with the GOP field’s most vocal Trump critic losing traction among the broader anti-Trump establishment. On Sunday, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said it’s Haley, not Christie, who is the “only one that has a shot” at beating the former president. And on Tuesday, Chris Sununu, New Hampshire’s popular governor and a longtime friend of Christie, endorsed Haley …

“The question for Chris Christie is: You’ve put it all on the line in New Hampshire. What’s beyond this? And if the governor’s not with you, how do you get there?” said veteran GOP strategist Jim Merrill, who is not working for a candidate this cycle.

You probably don’t. Yes, Christie has staked a lot on his prowess as a debater, but it’s Haley who has overall been the top debater this cycle. CNN is holding a preprimary debate in New Hampshire for which Christie might not even qualify (there will be a separate ABC-WMUR debate in the Granite State, but the qualifying criteria haven’t been released). In New Hampshire and nationally, Christie is consistently the candidate with the highest unfavorables in the field; National Review editor Rich Lowry labeled him “among the most unpopular candidates ever to seek his own party’s presidential nomination.”

If Haley and DeSantis (whose own survival probably depends on holding off Haley for second place in Iowa) were already gone, and Trump was just ticking off states until he secured the delegates needed for his third nomination, you could perhaps envision Christie as a lonely Cassandra warning Republicans not to lash themselves to this dangerous man once again. But Christie is not the sole survivor, and thus his continued candidacy benefits no one other than his alleged bête noire the 45th president. Maybe that realization will sink in before New Hampshirites vote and sweep the Christie campaign into oblivion.

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