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The only Republican candidate who made any sense
Sunday, 04 February 2024 17:52
By BILL PRESS
Syndicated Columnist


Whatever you think of Chris Christie, you have to admit: We’re all better off because he decided to run for president his year. 

And he’s the only Republican, out of an initial field of 11 candidates, you can say that about.

Not that Christie’s the perfect politician. He was a bully as governor of New Jersey. He clumsily tried to shut down the George Washington Bridge to punish a political opponent. After finishing sixth in New Hampshire in 2016, he dropped out and became the first governor to endorse Donald Trump, whom he’d previously dismissed as the GOP’s “entertainer in chief.”

Only last week did Christie admit his mistake, telling New Hampshire voters he endorsed Trump because “I thought I could make him a better candidate and a better president. Well, I was wrong.”

Yet Christie stood alongside Trump throughout 2016 and endorsed him again in 2020, despite Trump treating him like garbage. 

Christie tells it all in his 2019 memoir “Let Me Finish.” How Trump fired him as manager of his presidential transition — and destroyed all the plans Christie had prepared. How Trump rejected him for vice president, attorney general and secretary of state, even after dangling all three jobs before him. 

And still, ever loyal, Christie closes with cringe-worthy praise of Trump: “He commands extraordinary loyalty from his supporters and has unique communication skills.”

He didn’t even turn on Trump after he got COVID at the White House, where he’d been helping Trump prepare for the first 2020 presidential debate. Starting to experience symptoms after learning that presidential adviser Hope Hicks, and later Trump himself, had tested positive, Christie checked himself into Morristown Medical Center, was rushed to the ICU and was given last rites by a priest. 

A few days later, he received a call from Trump. As Christie relates in his follow-up memoir, “Republican Rescue,” the purpose of Trump’s call soon became clear. It was not to wish Christie well. Trump’s only question was: “Are you gonna say you got it from me?” When Christie said no, Trump hung up. That’s the last call he got from Donald Trump.

It’s stunning that it took so long, but Christie says the blinders finally came off on election night in November 2020, when Trump declared victory, even though it was already clear he’d lost both the popular and Electoral College votes — and then proceeded in the weeks that followed to do everything possible to overturn the election, leading up to the armed insurrection of Jan. 6. 

At that point, Christie determined to stop Donald Trump from ever getting back to the Oval Office.

When none of the other candidates were willing to take Trump on directly, Christie himself jumped in — and never held back. He was the only candidate to tell the truth. “I’m the only one saying Donald Trump is a liar.” “He caused a riot on Capitol Hill. He’ll burn America to the ground to help himself.” 

And in the first 2024 debate, Christie exploded in anger against six of his fellow candidates who raised their hands and said they’d support Trump as GOP nominee even if he were convicted of a felony. 

“Somebody’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” Christie said. “I would never raise my hand to say it’s OK to have a convicted felon as the president of the United States.”

But, of course, the Republican Party doesn’t want to hear that message today. They don’t want the truth. They prefer to believe Trump’s lies. 

So Christie was forced to drop out. But he did so with a touch of class — in words that should be engraved over the portal to the United States Congress and every state capitol in the land: “I would rather lose by telling the truth than lie in order to win.” How powerful. How admirable. But, sadly, how rare.

Of all the commentary on Christie’s departure from the race, I thought The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes, himself a GOP never-Trumper, summed it up best: “Right up until the end, Christie — that deeply flawed, infuriating, exasperating, irritating man — was a magnificent beast.”

Christie’s not going away. In suspending his campaign, he vowed to do everything he can to stop Donald Trump from getting reelected. 

As for an alternative to Trump, he issued this warning: “Anyone who is unwilling to say Trump is unfit to be president of the United States is unfit themselves to be president of the United States.” 

So far, only Chris Christie’s willing to say that.
© 2024, Tribune Content Agency, LLC
Bill Press, a liberal, is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” 
His email address is: bill@billpress.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.

 



 


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