By Delia Rune
Boston University News Service
On Jan. 10, former governor and federal prosecutor Chris Christie dropped out of the 2024 Republican presidential race. This was his second time running for the Republican presidential nomination and his second time dropping out before Super Tuesday.
Despite endorsing Donald Trump in 2016, Christie’s campaign was characterized by its outspoken opposition to Trump, and, since announcing his run, Christie has been the loudest critic of Trump within the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Although Christie and Trump used to be friends and political allies – Christie being one of the first to back Trump in 2016 – they became fierce rivals after Christie refused to support Trump’s claims of election interference in 2020.
Perhaps in an attempt to stand in contrast to Trump’s messages about “alternative facts” and “fake news,” Christie’s 2024 campaign emphasized the importance of truth. Christie wove this message into all of his political materials –everything from his slogan (“because the truth matters”) to his PAC (“tell it like it is”) reiterated his vow to tell the truth.
“We’re in this race to tell the truth. From the beginning we’ve been in this race to tell the truth,” Christie said after announcing he was dropping out of the race. “Fact is, as we were watching this race come together… we were really concerned that nobody would tell the truth in this race about what’s really at stake, and no one would tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
This message is a natural one for Christie to deliver because it aligns with the rest of his political career. Christie has never been afraid to speak his mind – even when it’s politically incorrect. Earlier in his career, he made bold choices such as calling a former Navy Seal a “jerk,” calling reporters “idiots” and heckling someone on the Seaside Heights boardwalk eating an ice cream. Christie has always prided himself in being “straight up” with voters, long before former President Trump and Governor of Florida Ron Desantis were on the scene.
Christie has developed a strong reputation in the political world in part because he has been involved in politics for so long. Although, in recent years, Christie’s career has somewhat slowed as he shifted most of his work to running for president.
When Christie first entered politics in 1993, he was pro-choice and anti-gun, positions which have reversed themselves throughout his time in politics. In 2002, Christie became the United States Attorney for the districts of New Jersey. He served in this role until 2010, when he was sworn in as Governor of New Jersey.
Christie’s run as governor started positively with his approval rating coming in at around 52% in the spring of his first term. But by the end of his second term, his approval rating was 15%, the lowest ever recorded for a governor in the state.
By the end of Christie’s second term, citizens of New Jersey were frustrated with him and also partly blamed him for the “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey. “Bridgegate” occurred in September 2013 when a member of Christie’s staff ordered that three major toll lanes in Fort Lee be closed. This action caused extreme traffic problems in Fort Lee, extending commutes from 30 minutes to four hours, and was later revealed to be retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee who had not supported Christie’s run for governor. This scandal cast a shadow over the rest of Christie’s time in office and returned to haunt him during both of his runs for president.
Ten years ago, the name “Chris Christie” had a sense of presidential power. Today, failed campaigns, scandal and a new era of loud-spoken politicians have pushed Christie out of the race, and it remains to be seen where his career will go from here.