He didn’t go quietly.
At a campaign stop in Windham, New Hampshire on Wednesday, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced that he is dropping out of the presidential race, but not before some choice words for fellow Republican Nikki Haley were picked up on the campaign event’s livestream.
“She’s going to get smoked, and you and I both know it,” he said, referring to Haley. “She’s not up to this.”
Though Christie has been the most outspoken critic of Donald Trump among the candidates, hammering home the theme that the former president is unfit for office, he made no attempt to unify the remaining Republicans in the field, either during his announcement or in the hot-mic moment.
But he did lambast Trump, an approach that apparently doomed his candidacy, as other candidates were more careful not to alienate voters who support Trump.
“Imagine just for a moment if 9/11 had happened with Donald Trump behind the desk,” Christie said. “The first thing he would have done was run to the bunker to protect himself. He would have put himself first, before this country.” He also criticized “the hate and the division and the selfishness of what our party has become under Donald Trump.”
It was the second time Christie dropped out of a Republican presidential race involving Trump, and it was an ironic moment. After Trump defeated him in the 2016 primary race, Christie shocked the political world by endorsing Trump. On Wednesday, he said he regretted doing so.
Apparently, the hot-mic moment wasn’t an isolated incident. During a call from candidate Ron DeSantis after the announcement in which the Republican candidate thanked Christie for his role in the campaign, Christie reportedly again mocked Haley, according to the New York Times.
During his mic-drop, he could be heard putting down the other candidates for their campaign spending. “Look, [Haley] spent $68 million so far, just on TV. 59 million by DeSantis. And we spent 12.”
Christie’s defection reduces the Republican field to a contest between Trump, who is polling at about 39 percent, and Haley, polling at about 32 percent. Despite Christie’s disparagement of Haley, her policy positions align closely with his.
But in the off-script remarks before his announcement, there was no support for his fellow Republican and the best chance to beat Trump.
“She’s still 20 points below Trump,” an aide can be heard saying to Christie. “He’s still going to carry Iowa.”
For her part, Haley took the high road. After his speech, she called him “a friend for many years,” and commended him “on a hard-fought campaign.
“I will fight to earn every vote,” she said.
She made no reference to the hot-mic comments.