Even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and continues to falsely claim that the election was rigged against him, other Republican White House aspirants are quietly starting to look ahead to the 2024 race.
Or, in the case of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, perhaps not so quietly.
Christie on Monday signaled his interest in a potential 2024 campaign during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, suggesting that even another Trump campaign wouldn’t necessarily keep Christie out of the race.
“If President Trump decides to run in 2024, are you ruling out running against him?” Hewitt asked.
“I would not. No,” Christie said, adding: “I would not rule it out, Hugh.”
Later in the interview, Hewitt asked Christie whether he’d already reserved a “Christie2024″ internet domain.
Christie noted that he already controls ChrisChristie.com. “So we’re going to keep that one,” he said, “and we’ll see where we go from here, Hugh.”
Politicians, of course, rarely rule out a potential run for higher office. But Christie has stayed in the public eye over the last four years, appearing regularly on TV as an analyst for ABC News, counseling Trump as an outside adviser, and now starring in a national advertising campaign urging people to wear face masks after his own bout with COVID-19. Christie contracted the disease and was hospitalized after spending time at the White House this fall without wearing a mask. He told Hewitt that he now feels “100%.”
Christie is also a cochair of Georgia Battleground Fund, a political group helping to raise money for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their runoff elections next month, which will determine control of the Senate.
During his 2016 campaign for president, Christie ran as a brash truth-teller, but he couldn’t keep pace with the widely known reality television star who had even less of a filter. In 2024, Trump will turn 78; Christie will be 62.
Some Republicans worry that the party is making a mistake by forgoing the kind of autopsy that usually follows a presidential defeat. “As I look at the 2024 [GOP presidential] contenders, most of them are trying to become as much like Donald Trump as they can be,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Christie told Hewitt that Trump should attend Biden’s inauguration but was “doubtful” that the president would do so.
And Christie, a former U.S. attorney, defended Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to disclose the federal tax investigation into Hunter Biden’s finances before the election, in accordance with Justice Department guidelines. Trump lashed out at Barr this month when news reports revealed the investigation involving the incoming president’s son.
Patrick Murray, a pollster at Monmouth University who has followed Christie’s career, said there “could potentially be a number of paths for Christie by the time the 2024 process starts.”
“He won’t win over the true believers regardless of whether Trump runs again and we don’t even know exactly how large that group will be in three years,” Murray said by email Monday. “More specifically, we don’t know whether the Trump takeover of the Republican Party will persist without him in office.”