Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted Monday that former President Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination could be blocked if an opponent is able to challenge him on the debate stage.
“You better have somebody on that stage who can do to him what I did to Marco, because that’s the only thing that’s gonna defeat Donald Trump,” Christie said at a town hall at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, according to The Associated Press. (“Marco” refers to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.)
Christie recalled a notable moment from his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign, in which he challenged Rubio's lack of experience on a debate stage three days before the first primary in the campaign cycle. In response to Christie, Rubio repeated himself twice, and Christie replied: “There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”
“And that means you gotta have the skill to do it. And that means you have to be fearless, because he will come back and right at you,” he added, referring to Trump.
Christie then suggested that Trump’s 2024 challenger must have the “skill” to debate him, predicting that such a scenario is “not going to end nicely” for Trump.
“So you need to think about who’s got the skill to do that and who’s got the guts to do it, because it’s not going to end nicely,” he said. “No matter what, his end will not be a calm and quiet conclusion.”
Christie, a former Trump ally, has not announced a decision about whether he will run for president. He emerged as a vocal critic after Trump pushed false claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election.
“Donald Trump said a couple of weeks ago, ‘I am your retribution.’ Guess what, everybody? No thanks. No dice,” Christie said. “He doesn’t want to be my retribution. That’s baloney. The only person he cares about is him.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have formally announced their bids to challenge Trump in the 2024 GOP primary.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence have not officially announced presidential bids but are expected to decide soon.