November 9, 2021
In Las Vegas on Saturday, November 6, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) told some of the GOP’s most influential donors and bundlers that the only way for the party to continue building its electoral successes in 2021 is to move beyond former President Donald Trump’s fixation with the 2020 election results—while showing voters they will listen and fight for them with a message “that doesn’t hurt their ears,” reports CNN.
Christie was just one of a half-dozen potential GOP contenders for the White House who addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) conference this past weekend—laying the groundwork for their potential bids as the party waits to see whether Trump attempts another run for the Oval Office in 2024.
But while the others have largely tip-toed around the former President, Christie was the only one to argue that Tuesday night’s Republican gains— namely winning Virginia’s gubernatorial race and keeping New Jersey’s much closer than expected—demonstrated that the party must chart a new path forward that advances beyond the grievance politics that have defined the Trump era.
If they do not, Christie warned, they will jeopardize the gains they made last week among women and suburban voters who fled the party during Trump’s presidency.
“We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections—no matter where you stand on that issue, no matter where you stand, it is over,” Christie said. “Every minute that we spend talking about 2020—while we’re wasting time doing that, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are laying ruin to this country. We better focus on that and take our eyes off the rearview mirror and start looking through the windshield again.”
He argued that Trump’s stepped-back role allowed gubernatorial candidates like Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Jack Ciattarelli of New Jersey to connect with voters on issues that actually matter to them like parental involvement in education and skyrocketing gas and grocery prices. “People want us to be direct with them. They want someone to fight for them. But they want them to fight in a way that doesn’t hurt their ears,” Christie said.
He added, “We have to speak to their dreams, their hopes, their aspirations for the future. If we don’t do that, then we won’t once again win back the votes that we began to win back in Virginia and New Jersey last Tuesday night.”
In a subsequent interview with CNN, Christie said that, with the 2022 elections looming, it is time for Trump to decide whether he wants to be “a leader for tomorrow or a figure of yesterday.” He added that he believes Trump can be a “very positive force for Republican candidates” in 2022 if he will “begin talking about the future and tell the truth about the election and move on.” But he acknowledged that he had “not a clue” about whether Trump would heed that advice.
When asked how he would advise Republican candidates in tough races next year who will have to navigate around the former President as they continue to try to court the moderate and suburban voters he alienated, the former New Jersey governor said he will urge them to “be yourself and not be scared.” He said they should not “worry about what the former President is going to do or not do,” because they have no control over his behavior regardless.
Christie said he will wait to make his own decision about 2024 until after the 2022 midterms when he has a better sense of what the political climate will be. But unlike other potential contenders—who have said they will not run if Trump does— Christie said he would not stand aside if Trump vies for a second term.
“Absolutely not. My decision will never be based on anybody else’s candidacy,” Christie told CNN. “It will be based on whether I believe I have the talent, the skill, and the ability to be able to win. And anybody who says that they’ll step aside for anybody else, I’d say to you, doesn’t belong being president. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to stand up to anyone, then you can’t possibly stand up for everyone.”
Research contact: @CNN