"Axios on HBO": Christie calls waiting on Trump for '24 disqualifying
On "Axios on HBO," former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a tough opening shot at potential 2024 candidates who plan to decide whether to run based on what former President Trump does:
- "Those people who say that they will defer to Donald Trump have disqualified themselves from being president," Christie told me during a wide-ranging interview in New Jersey. "Because if you're not willing to stand up to someone, ... how can you ... be standing up for everyone when you're president?"
Why it matters: Christie, who's gaming out a possible run in 2024, is signaling he has no fear of tangling with Trump, a friend of 20 years from whom he has been estranged since 1/6. And he's painting more cautious Republicans as cowardly.
State of play: Many ambitious Republicans go to great lengths to avoid inciting Trump — or getting crossways with his supporters, who dominate the party base.
- Former Vice President Mike Pence, for one, has made it clear he won't wait on his former boss to make a decision. Pence's view, I'm told, is that whether he's being called to serve isn't dependent on what Trump does.
Christie told me: "I think that if you believe that you have the talent, the ability, the skills to be president of the United States, that you shouldn't defer to anyone if you believe you're the best person."
On other topics, Christie said:
- He has no regrets about helping prep Trump for his re-election debates: "The only regret I have about that is I caught COVID when I was doing it."
- His seven days of isolation in the ICU with COVID were "very scary": "My body ached like I've never felt in my life. I had very, very high fevers, sweating, difficulty breathing and brutal headaches. ... I definitely felt I could die."
- He has this advice for someone who hasn't been vaccinated against COVID: "Talk to people like me who have had it, talk to the family members of people who died from it — and talk to your doctor."