Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie’s campaign took aim at rivals Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley on Friday, accusing them of keeping their powder dry for 2028 by being reluctant to criticize former President Donald Trump.
A campaign memo from Christie to “donors and stakeholders” argued that the recent consolidation of the Republican field will only strengthen Trump if other White House hopefuls refuse to attack him directly.
“Each is trying to do enough to finish second, because they believe that will position them as favorites four years from now once Trump is out of the picture,” the memo said under a bullet titled “Running for President.” …In 2028.”
“If the field were to clear for one of them, they are not going to risk their chance to finish in second place by upsetting Trump’s most loyal supporters,” the document continues.
The former New Jersey governor, 61, qualified for each of the first three Republican debates and made it a point to directly criticize Trump, 77.
Christie has been Trump’s loudest critic during the election campaign. AFP via Getty Images
Notably, Christie has been one of the only candidates who said he would not support the former president’s nomination if he were convicted in the ongoing criminal cases against him.
Both DeSantis and Haley have said they would support Trump either way if he were the Republican nominee, but have stepped up criticism of the former president as the campaign has progressed.
DeSantis, 45, said the former president was “missing in action” from the debate stage and claimed last month that Trump cannot win the general election because his nomination would only “energize” Democrats to vote for President Biden. .
DeSantis, Haley and Christie have qualified for the three previous Republican debates.AP
Haley, 51, argued Sunday that “drama and chaos” followed Trump but admitted she agrees “with many of his policies.”
The Haley and DeSantis campaigns did not immediately respond to The Post’s questions about Christie’s attack.
Christie has been struggling to confront Trump directly in a debate and has stated that he would try to “find” the former president for talks if that doesn’t happen. Christie has also said that she would defeat Trump in a physical fight and that she would “kick his ass.”
DeSantis and Haley have recently stepped up their attacks on each other as their poll numbers get closer.CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Christie’s attack was aimed at Trump’s two closest Republican competitors: DeSantis is at 14.8%, according to the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, while Haley is at 9.6%.
Meanwhile, Christie gets 2.1% on the national average, falling behind biotech mogul Vivek Ramaswamy and the three frontrunners. Christie is seeing a surge in support in New Hampshire, where a pair of recent polls show him in third place behind Trump and Haley.
Despite his low poll numbers, Christie’s memo argues that he still has the bandwidth to defeat Trump, who has an average lead of more than 40 points over the rest of the field.
“Candidates who can clearly differentiate themselves while running efficient and intelligent campaigns will go the distance,” the memo said.