Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey and an advisor to Donald Trump at one time, spoke at the shrine of resistance to the former president — the Reagan library in Simi Valley — and proceeded to savage Donald Trump as few other Republicans have.
Christie has let it be known in moderate Republican circles that he’s available to run for president in 2024. On Friday, he established his bona fides by eviscerating the former president. Not by name, of course. At the site honoring the man who invented the “11th commandment” of not speaking ill of other Republicans, it would have been considered bad form to actually use Trump’s name.
But he made it absolutely crystal clear who he was talking about. “If the requirement in today’s politics for getting your support is to say a bunch of things that aren’t true — no, thank you,” said Christie. “If it requires bending to the will of any one person rather than advocating ideas for the good of all people, then count me out. No man, no woman, no matter what office they’ve held or wealth they’ve acquired, are worthy of blind faith or obedience. That’s not who I am, and that’s not who we are as Republicans, no matter who is demanding that we tie our futures to a pile of lies. We deserve much better than to be misled by those trying to acquire or hold on to power.”
Christie kept returning to the “stolen election” claims as an anchor that is holding the party back and binding it to Trump. “We have to reject those who try to lure us down rabbit holes, into alliances with bad actors, and over to the grip of authoritarianism,” he said. “Authoritarian dictators are not strong leaders to be admired. They are bullies hoping to fool the crowd just one more time.”
Christie also harked back to the Republican Party’s struggle with the John Birch Society, a far-right movement in the 1950s that pushed conspiracy theories and labeled President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a communist sympathizer. Mainstream Republicans fought back against the John Birch Society and other radicals and successfully purged them from the GOP, which helped pave the way for more palatable conservatives like Ronald Reagan to win the presidency.
The Birchers were easily sidelined because they were small in number and were never successful in moving their ideology beyond the fringe of American politics.
This is not going to happen with Trumpism when half the Republican Party thinks the election was stolen. Republicans are not going to sideline Trump because they believe him when he claims the election was a fraud.
Christie doesn’t believe that Republicans have to change the issues they promote. He just thinks he’d be a better messenger to deliver them than Trump.
“We do not have to change our policies to win again,” he said. He talked at length about the “radical” agenda of Biden and the need to confront China, rein in spending, stand up for law and order, control migration across the southern border, fight back against liberal bias in the mainstream media and reduce the size of government.
As of today, those would be winning issues in a national election. Add to that a sputtering economy, skyrocketing prices, possible energy shortages, and a sense that Joe Biden has failed to deliver, and you have a recipe for victory.
But Christie is delusional if he believes that accusing Trump of being a liar will make any difference. Far more influential and important people have already accused Trump of being a liar and the former president is picking his teeth with their bones.
Trump’s influence on Republicans will only end when the former president is no longer on this earth.