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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, lacing up for a possible presidential run in 2024, told "Axios on HBO" he won't back down from a fight with former President Donald Trump, taunting his longtime friend for losing the last election.

  • "I've never walked away from an argument, no matter who stood on the other side," Christie told me during a wide-ranging interview in New Jersey.

Why it matters: This is the first hand-to-hand combat of the 2024 Republican presidential race.

  • Many Republican candidates fear crossing Trump. But Christie — who said he still considers Trump a friend, despite their falling-out over the president's behavior during the Jan. 6 riot — relishes political combat.

What's happening: Christie got great press for remarks he made last weekend at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, where he argued Republicans need to focus on future fights rather than rehashing the 2020 election.

  • That got under Trump's skin. He issued a harsh statement Monday saying Christie "was just absolutely massacred by his statements that Republicans have to move on from the past, meaning the 2020 Election Fraud."
  • "Everybody remembers," Trump added, "that Chris left New Jersey with a less than 9% approval rating — a record low, and they didn’t want to hear this from him!"

Christie had a zinger ready when I sat down with him Tuesday.

  • "I'm not gonna get into a back-and-forth with Donald Trump," the former governor told me. "But what I will say is this: When I ran for reelection in 2013, I got 60% of the vote. When he ran for reelection, he lost to Joe Biden."
  • "I'm happy to have that comparison stand up, because that's the one that really matters," Christie added.

Christie said he's made a conscious decision "that I want to spend my time combating the policies of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — and trying to help Republicans win governorships and the House and the Senate in 2022."

  • "This is not an argument that I'll walk away from," Christie added. "I think it's much more productive to fight those policies than to fight with other Republicans."

Fact check: Christie's approval rating in the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll when he left the governorship in January 2018 was 19 percent.

  • Mike Allen's interview with former Chris Christie airs Sunday on "Axios on HBO," at 6 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.

Editor's note: This story was first published on Thursday, Nov. 11.

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Go deeper

Trump to elevate election deniers at Arizona rally

Donald Trump. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump announced guest speakers today for his Saturday rally in Arizona, and most of them share a common trait: they led efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Why this matters: Trump, who remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party, is making his false claims about the 2020 election the centerpiece of the GOP platform.

Trump seeks N.Y. attorney general's recusal from civil investigation

Combination images of New York Attorney General Letitia James and former President Trump. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images; Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump and the Trump Organization filed a motion Monday for a preliminary injunction against New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigations into the business, accusing her of "unconstitutional" abuse of process.

Why it matters: Trump is seeking a stay in the civil investigation by James' office into the family business while the outcome of his lawsuit against the attorney general is pending or for James to "recuse herself from involvement in any capacity in the active civil and criminal investigation," according to the filing.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

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