Chris Christie plays down risk to Republicans if Trump loses primary but won’t leave the race

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Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Sunday sought to downplay the consequences. If his opponent Donald Trump loses the 2024 primary race But he refuses to say no — or continue to run as a third-party candidate.

“He doesn’t expect anybody to accept it,” Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a vocal Trump supporter, told ABC’s “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Carl. .

When Trump takes a big lead In the national election Republican primary voters, according to polls, are in a slightly weaker front-runner position. Iowa And New HampshireIn the first two states to vote, Christie and other challengers are hoping for an upset.

Pressed by Carl, Trump’s continued presence in the race could be a continuing problem if he loses — if he contests the outcome or runs with a third party — Christie dismissed that idea, arguing at the time that “the crowd is overwhelming.” He begins to ignore the former president because of his repeated defeats at the ballot box.

“I think he’ll go back to Mar-a-Lago. He’ll carp and whine and complain and say we don’t deserve him,” Christy said. “What he gets out of this race and what he expects from the White House is fine by me.”

Christe’s response comes as ABC News has learned that Americans for Prosperity Action — an advocacy group backed by Republican billionaire Charles Koch and his allies — has nominated Trump’s alternative candidate for the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses 50 days away.

According to a survey by Americans for Prosperity, which poured an estimated $70 million into the effort to defeat the former president, 75% of Republicans would be open to the Trump option if they thought that person would win. ” ABC News political director Rick Klein told Carl on Sunday.

Trump has commanded the Republican field so far, but said the relatively weak early state polls could give other candidates hope “if people start getting involved.”

Christie echoed those comments on Sunday, telling Carl that he believes he will be the running mate in New Hampshire, where he has spent a lot of time campaigning.

Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at the Hudson Institute November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

“Even in a place like New Hampshire, I think people are starting to get involved. You know, I’m really seeing people now finally starting to dig in, finding out who they think is saying what they want to hear and telling the truth. To the voters of New Hampshire,” he said.

Christie has positioned himself as the loudest Trump opponent in the GOP primary field. Trump fired back calling Christine a “failed” candidate and governor

Christie said he expects to expand his campaign “this week” to South Carolina and Michigan, two of the next primary voting states, although he believes he can do “very well” as the polls have yet to improve. Oh place.

“Now, with 58 days until the New Hampshire primary, we will be focusing most of our time and energy on the state of New Hampshire,” he said.

But with other contenders still in the race, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Carl asked this area “exactly how Trump is going to win,” dividing the vote among his opponents.

Christie said that instead of attacking each other, the remaining candidates should all focus their fire on Trump.

“If all three of us are following Donald Trump, I believe that the most honest of the three of us in terms of those criticisms will win this primary,” Christie said.

“I think we should focus on who is ahead, who is hurting our party, who is hurting this country,” he continued. “And in my view, this is Donald Trump and we should go straight to him.”

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