Nov 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Christie applauded after bashing Trump at GOP governor meeting

Chris Christie

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received huge applause at an annual meeting of Republican governors Tuesday morning after blaming former President Trump for GOP failures in the last three elections, according to three sources in the room and a fourth person familiar with the speech.

Why it matters: The chorus of Republican office-holders calling for the GOP to move on from Trump is growing louder, driving the party to the brink of civil war just as the former president prepares to announce his 2024 comeback bid.

Driving the news: Christie addressed a room full of hundreds of people — Republican governors, high-level donors and consultants — at a hotel in Orlando, less than 200 miles north from the Mar-a-Lago resort where Trump is expected to make his announcement Tuesday night.

  • Christie, a former Trump ally who is now considering his own 2024 presidential campaign, said voters "rejected crazy" in the 2022 midterms and that Republicans lost because of bad candidates.
  • But he didn't just harp on last week's disappointing results: Republicans lost in 2018, 2020 and 2022, Christie said, with Trump the one constant who has weighed the party down across all three election cycles.
  • Christie, the former chair of the Republican Governors Association, pointed out that there were 31 GOP governors when he left the role in 2014. There are now 26 — five gone in eight years, all because Trump picks his candidates based purely on loyalty, he argued.

Between the lines: Christie singled out Doug Mastriano, the far-right, Trump-backed Republican nominee in Pennsylvania who lost by nearly 15 points to Democrat Josh Shapiro.

  • Christie said the RGA made a smart decision not to invest in Pennsylvania because Mastriano was a hopeless, lost cause.
  • He called for the RGA to engage in Republican primaries to prevent these extreme candidates from being nominated.

The intrigue: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose rising profile as a potential 2024 challenger has divided the party and infuriated Trump, was not in the room.

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu were among those in attendance.
  • Ducey — the co-chair of the RGA, who will be succeeded as Arizona governor by Democrat Katie Hobbs after Trump-backed Kari Lake was narrowly defeated — applauded heartily after Christie's speech.
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