On the Trail: Christie could launch campaign in NH


For the Monitor

Published: 06-02-2023 2:51 PM

Former two-term New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie returns to New Hampshire in the week ahead when the 2016 GOP White House contender is expected to launch a 2024 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Sources familiar with Christie’s thinking say that the former governor will formally launch his campaign on Tuesday evening at a town hall at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Word that Christie would be declaring his candidacy for president for the second time came a day after his allies launched a super PAC to support the former governor’s 2024 presidential campaign.

The formation of the group, Tell It Like It Is, was considered a key step ahead of Christie’s expected entry into the White House race. Christie said on May 4 that he would make a 2024 decision in next two weeks, but has yet to announce his intentions.

Considered one of the best communicators in the GOP, Christie was once a strong ally of then-President Donald Trump but has become one of the former president’s most vocal GOP critics.

In 2016, Christie placed all his chips in New Hampshire, but his campaign crashed and burned after a disappointing and distant sixth-place finish in the state. He was far behind Trump, who crushed the competition in the primary, boosting him toward the nomination and eventually the White House.

Christie became the first among the other GOP 2016 contenders to endorse Trump, and for years was a top outside adviser to the then-president and chaired Trump’s high-profile commission on opioids. However, the two had a falling out after Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Biden. The past two years, Christie has become one of the most vocal Trump critics in the GOP.

Christie has been publicly mulling a 2024 presidential run for over a year and a half, and recently has repeatedly chimed in on his dissatisfaction with the state of the race. He’s expressed discontent with the Republican field, accusing candidates of not being willing to take on the front-runner directly.

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Christie, known during his tenure for the kind of in-your-face politics that Trump has also mastered, has argued that he’s got the debate chops to potentially take down Trump should he face off with the former president.

“I know what I’m good at. I know how to articulate an argument. I know how to make it. I know how to land it. And I feel like I have the ideas that people are genuinely attracted to. So if you have those things, you have a good chance to be able to do it. No guarantees, but a good chance,” Christie told this reporter during an April stop in New Hampshire.

Trump remains the overwhelming front-runner in the early GOP presidential nomination polls after launching his third straight White House run in November. Christie stands at one percent support – or less – in the latest surveys.

“I hear Chris Christie’s coming in,” Trump said Thursday at a Fox News town hall. “What’s the purpose? And he’s polling at zero.”

It’s likely that going forward Christie will once again spend plenty of time campaigning in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP nominating calendar.

When asked in April if he would concentrate a 2024 campaign in the Granite State, at the expense of the other early voting states of Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, Christie told this reporter “I don’t know. I haven’t thought that all the way through yet. But I like New Hampshire.”

The day after Christie’s expected to launch his campaign, former Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to joining the growing field of 2024 Republican contenders taking on Trump, his one-time boss,

Sources with knowledge of the former vice president’s thinking confirm to Fox News that Pence will declare his candidacy in a campaign video and at an event in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday.

Pundits had long viewed Pence as a likely 2024 contender, as he spent the past two years crisscrossing the country to campaign and help raise money for Republicans running in the 2022 elections. Those travels took Pence multiple times to the early voting states as he strengthened relationships that usually precede the launch of a White House campaign. And behind the scenes he was busy adding to his core team of long-standing advisers and building a team in the key early voting states.

Pence, a former congressman, was Indiana governor when Trump named him as his running-mate in 2016. And for four years, Pence served as the loyal vice president to Trump.

But everything changed on Jan. 6, 2021, as right-wing extremists — including some chanting “hang Mike Pence” – stormed the U.S. Capitol aiming to upend congressional certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory that was overseen by Pence.

In the more than two years since the end of the Trump administration, the former president and vice president have further drifted apart. And Pence has rebuked his former boss, calling him out by name while discussing Trump’s claim that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Pence has described the deadly attack on the Capitol as “tragic” and that “it dishonored the millions of people who had supported our cause around the country.” And he’s emphasized that he did “the right thing” and performed his “duty under the Constitution.” He’s also noted a number of times that he and Trump may never “see eye to eye on that day.”

And when asked in recent months about Trump’s third White House run, Pence has reiterated that “I think that we’ll have better choices in 2024.”

Hours before Pence is expected to declare his candidacy for president, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota will also likely jump into the race. The former software company CEO will launch his campaign at an event on Wednesday in Fargo, North Dakota, sources in his political orbit confirm.

The governor, who is not known well outside of North Dakota, would be considered a dark-horse contender in a field of actual and expected 2024 GOP presidential contenders with much higher name identification.

But Burgum would enter the 2024 presidential race as one of the wealthiest members of the Republican field along with multi-millionaire entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Trump.

Burgum steered his one-time small business, Great Plains Software, into a $1 billion software company. His business — and its North Dakota-based workers — were eventually acquired by Microsoft, and Burgum stayed on board as a senior vice president.

In 2016, the then first-time candidate and long shot convincingly topped a favored GOP establishment contender to secure the Republican nomination in North Dakota before going on to a landslide victory in the gubernatorial general election in the solidly red state. Burgum was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020 to a second term as governor.

DeSantis in New Hampshire

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida returned to New Hampshire on Thursday as a declared Republican presidential candidate.

The two-term conservative governor had a jam-packed day – holding campaign events in Laconia, Rochester, Salem, and Manchester. DeSantis spoke with this reporter a couple of hours after President Joe Biden tripped and fell after delivering a speech and handing out diplomas at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado.

Biden was immediately helped up and appeared to quickly recover. The White House later said the president was fine.

Regardless, plenty of Republicans have questioned whether the 80-year-old Biden – the nation’s oldest president – is physically and mentally up to the intense demands of the White House for another four years.

Asked if he agreed, DeSantis said “people can judge that.”

While he emphasized “I hope that he didn’t sustain injures and if he did, I hope he has a speedy recovery from those,” DeSantis added that “I’m running for president because I want the U.S. to have a speedy recovery from the injuries that Joe Biden has inflicted on the country and at the end of the day I think that his policies have been wrong.”

DeSantis wasn’t the only presidential candidate in the state on Thursday. Multi-millionaire entrepreneur and conservative commentator Vivek Ramaswamy kicked off a two-day swing.

A Biden challenger comes to Concord

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made his first foray on the campaign trail since declaring his candidacy in April for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The environmental lawyer and high-profile vaccine critic, who’s a scion of arguably the nation’s most famous family political dynasty, stopped in Concord to address the New Hampshire state Senate on Thursday. Declared presidential candidates from both parties are being given the opportunity this cycle to speak before the upper chamber of the state legislature.

Kennedy is primary challenging President Biden, along with Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and spiritual adviser who’s making her second straight White House run.

Kennedy sparked speculation about a potential White House run early this year by visiting New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the presidential nomination race. He was joined on his trip to the state by his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, best known for portraying the wife of Larry David on the popular HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Kennedy earlier this year took aim at Biden and the Democratic National Committee over their decision to move the New Hampshire presidential primary out of its position as the first in the nation primary. New Hampshire will now vote second in the DNC’s calendar, along with Nevada, three days after South Carolina, under the DNC’s new schedule.

The DNC changed the nominating calendar in an effort to reflect more diversity in the Democratic Party, but Kennedy said New Hampshire already showcases the diversity in America. As a general election battleground state, he said, New Hampshire’s “four electoral votes could decide the 2024 election.”

But with New Hampshire likely to move up the date of their primary – due to a state law that mandates that the state holds the first presidential primary – it’s likely the president will stay off the ballot in New Hampshire to avoid an unsanctioned primary.

Kennedy claimed that the Democratic Party is trying to protect Biden, who fared poorly in the 2020 New Hampshire primary before coming back to win the nomination.

“I think that President Biden has never done well in New Hampshire, and they wanted to make sure that they had a sequence that would benefit him,” he told reporters.

“I’m here because I am going to participate in this primary in this state. I opposed the DNC’s decision to affect New Hampshire from the first in the nation state status, which is important to our country,” Kennedy said in his address to the state senators.

And he added to applause that “it is more than a tradition. New Hampshire plays a critical role in vetting candidates for the rest of the country.”

Kennedy pledged, “I’m going to be in this state fighting to win every vote in New Hampshire, Republican, Democratic and independent.”

He vowed that if elected president, “I’m going to pour concrete on the notion that New Hampshire holds the first in the nation primary.”