Republican presidential primary candidate Chris Christie joined new “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker on Sunday to talk his campaign, his former support for Donald Trump and the indictment of Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
When asked about voters who feel like they’re getting whiplash after seeing Christie defend Trump during previous controversies, Christie said, “Well, they shouldn’t feel like it, because I’ve explained it really well. First off, I supported him in 2016 because he was going to be the nominee, and I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States. And I make no apologies for that. I still don’t want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States.”
Christie cited the turning point for him: Nov. 3, 2020.
“I broke from the president very clearly, from President Trump, on election night 2020,” Christie said. “When you stand before the American people behind the seal of the President, in the East Room of the White House and say the election has been stolen when it wasn’t, and there’s no evidence to prove that it’s stolen now nearly three years later, that to me, made it a disqualifying moment for Donald Trump.”
Christie again defended his decisions based on the choices available in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
“Listen, American elections are about who’s left to vote for, and I made the decisions I made then. And Donald Trump left me; I didn’t leave him,” Christie said.
Explaining why he felt what happened in 2020 was different than when Trump claimed Iowa was stolen in the 2016 primary by Ted Cruz, Christie responded that he pointed it out on the debate stage during that primary, and that “this is much different, much different. When you’re president of the United States and people think you actually know something they don’t know, because you’re president of the United States, that’s what made what he did in 2020 so destructive. And we know from looking at what’s happened since then that lots of American people believed it because he was president, because they thought he knew things they didn’t know.”
Christie also explained why he apparently changed positions on Trump’s famous phone call threatening to withhold military aid for Ukraine with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“What you need to do is to make sure that when you get all of the facts you don’t stay handcuffed to something that you said when you didn’t know all the facts,” Christie said. “And by the way, he’s also made very clear that he didn’t want to be supportive of Ukraine anyway, Kristen. And he’s made that clear by making clear he turned Ukraine over to Vladimir Putin in 24 hours if he became president again. That’s not the kind of person we want in the Oval Office. That’s the kind of person who will destabilize Europe and will destabilize the world by America not being the leader.”
On another topic, Christie said that he’s not going to run against indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez for his New Jersey Senate seat, even assuming Christie were to lose the Republican primary.
“I have no interest in being the United States Senate,” Christie said, agreeing with Welker that he’s ruling it out completely. “I had a chance to appoint myself to the United States Senate, Kristen, in 2013 when Frank Lautenberg passed away and I was governor. If I didn’t appoint myself to the United States Senate, the easiest way to get there, I sure as heck am not going to run for it.”
When it comes to his primary chances, Christie argued that Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire haven’t made up their minds yet. Welker asked Christie why he isn’t gaining traction in the Republican primary, citing new NBC News polling data out Sunday.
“Well Kristen, look. I know you all spent a whole lot of money on national polls, so I don’t mean to go after the polling folks, but the fact is that national polls don’t matter. We don’t have a national primary,” Christie said.
He went on to cite Trump’s numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, with around 60% of voters not supporting Trump — which he said means they’re open to alternatives.