MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — As expected, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took some big swings at GOP presidential front-runner and former president Donald Trump Wednesday night at the first debate of the 2024 primary season.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s son swung back.
Christie, whose campaign has been built in large part on his loathing of the former president, went after Trump on the four criminal indictments he faces — particularly those involving allegations that he interfered with and attempted to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Here’s the bottom line. Someone has got to stop moralizing this conduct. Whether you believe the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the office of the president,” Christie said to a mix of applause and boos. More jeers than cheers.
Donald Trump Jr., working press row outside the spin room following the debate, shrugged off Christie’s rhetorical assault on his father like a mosquito in Wednesday’s 100-degree heat.
“I think Christie is doing whatever he can to get a soundbite, He’s running for the MSDNC conservative commentator role,” Don Jr. said in response to The Star News Network’s question. “He’s running a one-state primary for president.”
“I get it. He’ll get a little attention if he overperforms in New Hampshire. That’s his only path,” the president’s son and one of his most vehement defender’s added.
Christie is banking on the Granite State. He’s put much of his campaign time, energy and resources into New Hampshire, the first primary state in the 2024 nomination contest. He’s altogether ignored Iowa, the first caucus state, where he performed poorly in his failed 2016 presidential run.
A recent Emerson College Polling s showed Christie in second place in New Hampshire, overtaking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Both were running at least 40 percentage points behind Trump, who was polling at 49 percent.
While Christie talked up his tenure as New Jersey governor, he ended his second term in office with the lowest approval rating of any Garden State governor in history.
“He talks about being a blue stat governor. What was his approval rating when he left, like 9 percent?” Don Jr. said. It hit 15 percent to drop him to the lowest approval rating in state history. “I think missed a lot of opportunities” during the debate.
Fox News, which produced the debate, blocked Don Jr. and other Trump surrogates from entering the spin room after Trump decided to skip the debate. He was not happy about that. So he spent even more time with the reporters outside the prohibited spin room.
“It shouldn’t surprise us, and it’s also why Trump was 100 percent right not to go to this debate,” he said.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Donald Trump Jr.” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.