- Chris Christie said Trump avoiding GOP debates shows how scared he is of potential opponents.
- Trump said he may skip early GOP presidential debates, claiming he’d be “libeled” at the events.
- Christie said Trump is showing he’s “afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said former President Donald Trump is trying to dodge a debate with other GOP candidates because he’s “afraid” of his opponents.
“I’m sorry to see that Donald Trump feels like if he gets on the stage, he’s at risk of losing his lead,” Christie told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday. “If, in fact, his ideas are so great, if his leadership is so outstanding, then his lead will only increase if he gets on the stage, not decrease.”
“But obviously, he’s afraid. He’s afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious,” said Christie, who was once an ally of Trump’s but is now a critic of the former president.
Trump, who’s running for re-election in 2024, recently questioned the need for him to attend a second GOP presidential debate.
“When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the “questions,” why subject yourself to being libeled and abused?” he wrote in an April 26 Truth Social post.
The New York Times also reported that Trump believed the GOP debates in the summer are not worth his time.
Christie, who is considering running for the GOP nomination but has not announced a 2024 bid, said that if Trump declined to face his domestic opponents, he’d have trouble standing up to foreign leaders like China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
He further accused Trump of making key foreign policy mistakes that opened the door for the war in Ukraine to happen.
“How can we expect him to do any better with Putin than having set the groundwork for the invasion of Ukraine, which his conduct towards Putin certainly helped to establish?” Christie told Hewitt.
“This is a guy who seems like he’s afraid,” Christie added. “And if he’s afraid, he has no business being president.”
Christie’s latest comments come as his relationship with Trump continues to worsen. The former governor ran against Trump in 2016, but dropped out of the race, endorsing his former opponent and becoming the head of Trump’s transition campaign.
The Times called Christie “one of the most influential advisers” in Trump’s campaign and reported that he was at one point vetted to be the billionaire’s running mate. Christie also helped Trump prepare for his presidential debates in the 2020 election, an effort that he chronicled in his 2021 book “Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden.”
But Christie has grown increasingly critical of Trump, knocking his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and saying he failed to fulfill promises he made during his 2016 election bid.
In 2021, he accused Trump of giving him COVID-19 when they were working in the White House. And as Trump was indicted in New York in March, Christie said the former president was wrong to claim that being arrested and charged would help boost his popularity with voters.
Speaking to Hewitt on Wednesday, Christie mused about how he would run the US if he was elected president. Reducing government spending was high on his priority list, he said.
“And that’s not going to be an easy job, but you know, I did it with a bunch of Democrats in New Jersey, and we did balance that budget without raising taxes,” Christie said. “And I think the same thing needs to be done here in Washington.”
Representatives for Trump and Christie did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.