If you want to run for president, it helps to have a book.
By November of 2022—when the midterm elections will have revealed the political climate, and presidential candidates will have started to line up for 2024—former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will have two. The first, Republican Rescue (Threshold Editions, $28), is out November 16; the second is scheduled for next summer. Christie hasn’t said yet whether he plans another run, but the subtitle of the first book reveals the lane he will claim if he does: Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden.
“I think everything changed on Election Day of ’20,” Christie told New Jersey Monthly in a recent interview. “Ever since then, I believe Donald Trump has put himself before the country.”
The Republican Party for the last year has resembled a high school dance, with the former president at the center of the gym floor. Some partners embrace him tightly; others twirl around with him at arm’s length. Christie is leaning against the bleachers, critical of the claims by Trump—and many in the party—of a stolen election.
“He made [the] January 6 [attack on the Capitol] happen,” says Christie, 59. “Not based upon the speech he gave on January 6, but based on everything he said from election night forward. That was the pot that slowly came to a boil.”
In his role as a political analyst for ABC and in a recent speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, Christie has been pitching to the Republican Party the message he outlines at greater length in his book: Stop talking about the last election, ditch the QAnon conspiracy theorists, and start talking about the future. “If we don’t get back to talking about grassroots Republican issues and we continue to be a cult of personality, we’re not going to win,” he says. “If we don’t start doing this in the midterms, we’re not going to be credible for the presidential election either.”
As extremist views spread through the Republican Party in the weeks after the election, Christie started thinking about how extremist views undercut the party in 1964, when presidential nominee Barry Goldwater failed to confront the John Birch Society, and how Reagan in the California governor’s race two years later took a different path—a path the wisdom of Christie hopes today’s party will see after reading his book. “Reagan became a bigger national star than he had any right to be at that point because he stood up to the John Birch Society, and he beat them,” he says. That was, Christie argues, the start of the party’s revival that culminated in Reagan’s 1980 election.
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Christie was offered the job of White House chief of staff in December 2018 but declined, a story he tells at length for the first time in the book. And he helped prepare Trump for a debate with Joe Biden at a session in the White House Map Room, where he thinks he contracted the case of Covid-19 that landed him in Morristown Medical Center. Christie, who lives in nearby Mendham, was in the ICU there when he got a phone call from another hospitalized Covid-19 patient: Donald Trump.
“It was clear to me by, like, the second minute of the call that what he really wanted to know was, was I going to say publicly that he gave it to me? And I said, ‘No because I don’t know that you did,’” he says. “I laughed, because it was so him.”
Christie says he has texted but not spoken with Trump since Trump left office. And he says that Trump’s decision whether to run in 2024 will not affect his own. “If you’re going to run for president, you better have enough confidence in yourself that it doesn’t matter who else runs,” he says. “If you believe you’re the right person, belly up to the bar and run against whoever winds up showing up.”Click here to leave a comment