Trump critic Chris Christie exits 2024 US presidential race

By Reuters   January 10, 2024 | 06:33 pm PT
Trump critic Chris Christie exits 2024 US presidential race
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in Bedford, New Hampshire, in December 2023. Photo by AFP
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ended his flailing bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, after failing to garner support for a campaign centered on criticism of the policies and character of frontrunner Donald Trump.

Christie dropped out just days before the first Republican nominating contest in Iowa. Christie had the support of just 2% of Republicans in a nationwide Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday - the same level of support as former Representative Liz Cheney, who never declared herself a candidate.

Trump holds a big lead in the contest to be the party's nominee against President Joe Biden in November's election, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll. The poll put him at 49%, ahead of former UN ambassador Nikki Haley at 12% and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 11%.

DeSantis and Haley are vying to be the clear alternative to Trump and the backing of the 2% who supported Christie could help them on their way.

Christie told a town hall event in New Hampshire that he no longer saw a path forward for his campaign.

Republican strategist John Feehery said Christie dropping out might help Haley in New Hampshire, which will hold the second nominating contest later this month because many Christie voters will likely switch to her.

But he said he could not see it helping her significantly in other nominating states.

Christie did not discuss his decision with Haley, a person briefed on Christie's plans told Reuters before his announcement.

Just last week, the former governor said he would resist pressure to leave the race.

Christie, a former Trump ally turned critic who sought to position himself as the only Republican contender willing to go toe-to-toe with the pugnacious former president, had been seen as a longshot for the party's nomination.

Since launching his bid in June, Christie has been a staple on cable news shows offering withering critiques of Trump, calling him unfit for office and arguing that he was morally responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack the US Capitol.

While the broadsides earned Christie a sliver of support among Republicans wanting to move in a new direction, Trump's tight grip on the party's most active members meant Christie never rose above low single digits in national polls.

His departure eliminates the most vocal Trump antagonist from the race, although Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, has grown increasingly critical of Trump in recent months.

Christie, 61, has repeatedly predicted that Trump would likely lose in the general election to Democratic President Joe Biden, given the four criminal cases hanging over the former president's candidacy.

Christie ran for president in 2016 but ended his bid after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary and became the first major party figure to back Trump.

He helped run Trump's debate preparations in 2020 but disavowed the former president following his false claims that he won the 2020 election.

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