WASHINGTON – Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the most vocal opponent against former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential field, said he was not backing down from being Trump’s chief detractor and warned his fellow candidates from ignoring him.
At a town hall in Salem, New Hampshire, an attendee asked Christie if he would ever “go high” when Trump attacks him and goes “low.” Christie gave a succinct response.
“No,” Christie said to cheers from the crowd.
“Let me tell you why. Because we tried that with him in 2016, all of us ignored his insults,” Christie continued. “We said, ‘We’re not gonna respond to that, we’re gonna go high and talk about other things and just let him do what he’s gonna do.’”
Ignoring Trump in 2016, Christie said, ultimately led to his presidency. For a candidate to win, Christie claimed, they “have to fight him on the truth.”
“When he lies, we need to fight him. Because to ignore him is to assent to his lies,” Christie added.
In the 2016 GOP presidential primary, Christie emerged as one of Trump’s earliest supporters and later one of his closest allies during his presidency up until his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Since then, Christie said he was “wrong” to support the former president.
Christie’s prior support of Trump has not been forgotten by some Granite State voters. An attendee asked Christie why voters should consider voting for him, considering his support of Trump in 2016 “felt like a betrayal to those of us who believed you.”
The former New Jersey governor conceded he had flip-flopped on Trump and said back then, he “tried to make him a better candidate and make him a better president,” but it turned out “I was wrong.”
Christie made his pitch simple to former supporters who could be skeptical of him now: he’s learned his lesson.
“The reason you should vote for me this time because I’m smarter than I was eight years ago,” Christie said.
‘Everyone will be completely shocked’: Christie expects a big win in New Hampshire primary
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Christie in N.H. says when Trump lies, ‘We need to fight’