- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will not yield to Donald Trump when it comes to a potential run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Mr. Christie, once a top ally of the former president, said Tuesday during an appearance on the “Ruthless” podcast that a potential Trump candidacy would have no impact on his ambitions.

“I’m also not going to be one of these people who’s going to say, ‘Well, I’ll wait to see what President Trump‘s going to do,’” Mr. Christie said. “You know, I’m not going to defer to anyone if I decide that it’s what I want to do and that I think I’m the best option for the party and for the country.

“And I think if you say you’re deferring to someone, that’s a real sign of both weakness and indecision,” the former governor added. “And we’ve already got that in the White House.”

The comments are the latest sign that the relationship between the two Republicans has cooled. In recent months, the former governor has criticized Mr. Trump for refusing to concede the results of the 2020 election.

Mr. Christie has also dinged the former president for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the former governor went a step further, arguing there was a “recklessness to some of the stuff that happened over the last four years, which came back to cost us suburban voters, which cost us the election.”

“What I want to do is to try to lead the party in a productive and smart way for us to continue to argue for populist-type policies, but not to be reckless, not to be reckless with our policies, not to be reckless with our language, to be smart about it,” the former governor said. “And that doesn’t mean to be timid, no one’s ever gonna call me timid.”

The rupture between Mr. Christie and Mr. Trump is not surprising, given their history. In 2016, the duo vied against each other for the GOP nomination, but never directly attacked one another. Their campaigns were similar in tone, with both Mr. Trump and Mr. Christie pitching themselves to voters as candidates willing to “tell it like it is.”

Mr. Christie‘s campaign failed to gain traction and he dropped out shortly after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary. The former governor, though, threw his support behind Mr. Trump, becoming one of the first prominent figures from within the GOP establishment to do so.

Mr. Trump rewarded Mr. Christie by tapping him to lead his transition team during the general election. The assignment was short-lived, with Mr. Christie being booted from the role shortly after Mr. Trump won the 2016 election. The firing was supposedly at the behest of Mr. Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner, with whom Mr. Christie frequently clashed.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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