Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign believes he still has the ability to beat former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024, according to a donor memo released Friday.
Christie’s campaign took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for being “too afraid” to directly criticize Trump while outlining recent polling that shows increased support for the former New Jersey governor, arguing that “winning candidates break late,” according to the memo obtained by Axios. Despite other major 2024 hopefuls like former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott suspending their campaigns, the memo suggests Christie intends to stay in the race through the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23 and beyond.
“This will end up being a two person race between Trump and someone else, and Christie is the only candidate positioned to take him on aggressively and outlast the candidates too scared to do so,” the memo reads. (RELATED: ‘Then I’ll Leave’: Chris Christie Pledges To Drop Out Of Presidential Race If He Can’t Swing This Key State)
The campaign argued that “with its open primary and heavy participation from independents, New Hampshire allows Christie to change the turnout model, and establish himself as the clear alternative.”
The memo pointed toward a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll released Thursday that found Christie jumped by 3 points to 14% in third place among likely GOP primary voters, trailing Haley at 20% and Trump at 42%. Christie’s campaign touted his support among non-Republicans in the survey, as well as the finding that the former governor was the only candidate to see a net favorability bump.
However, the same survey found that 47% of voters “would not vote for [him] under any circumstances.”
The memo also asserts that New Hampshire’s primary historically is a better indicator of who will win the nomination than Iowa, as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Trump all secured the state.
“This is nothing more than a desperate ploy to gaslight donors into throwing more of their cash into a money pit,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Christie’s campaign then argued it will “gain steam as [the] field narrows” in South Carolina and “prepare for the long haul” in the following states, according to the memo.
The memo also pointed toward McCain’s 2008 campaign where he “was in a distant 3rd place in New Hampshire and would spend most of November and December in 4th place nationally.”
The RealClearPolitics average for a 2024 national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 14, indicates Christie has 2.1% support, while Trump is leading the field at 59%, followed by DeSantis with 14.8%, Haley with 9.6% and conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy with 5.1%.
Christie’s campaign accused Haley and DeSantis of running for 2028, citing their fight for second place.
“The reality is they are each trying to do just enough to finish second, because they think it will position them as a front-runner four years from now once Trump is out of the picture. And even if the field were cleared for one of them, they are not going to risk their shot at a second place finish by upsetting Trump’s most loyal supporters,” the memo reads.
Neither Haley nor DeSantis immediately responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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