ELECTIONS

Christie will announce at New Hampshire town hall that he’s ending presidential bid, AP source says

Jan 10, 2024, 3:04 PM

chris christie...

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering during a campaign event at V.F.W. Post 1631, July 24, 2023, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

WINDHAM, N.H. (AP) — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning to announce he’s dropping his Republican presidential bid at his New Hampshire town hall on Wednesday night.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the former New Jersey governor’s plans who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.

Christie, 61, has been under intense pressure to exit the Republican presidential primary race as critics of Donald Trump work to unify behind a viable alternative to the former president.

Christie is scheduled to host a town hall meeting in Windham at 5 p.m., hours before two of his rivals, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, meet for the fifth GOP presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle. It is the only debate that Christie did not qualify for.

The news comes as a surprise, given that Christie had staked the success of his campaign on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, which is less than two weeks away. He had insisted as recently as Tuesday night that he had no plans to leave the race, rebuffing growing calls for him to step aside as he continued to cast himself as the only candidate willing to directly take on the former president.

“I would be happy to get out of the way for someone who is actually running against Donald Trump,” he said at a town hall in Rochester, New Hampshire, while arguing that none of his rivals had stepped up to the plate.

“I’m famous enough. … I’ve got plenty of titles. … The only reason to do this is to win,” he added. “So I’d be happy to get out of the way for somebody if they actually were going against Donald Trump.”

But Christie faced a stark reality: While recent polls showed him reaching the double digits in New Hampshire, Haley shows signs of momentum. A CNN/UNH poll conducted in the state this week found Trump’s lead down to the single digits, with 4 in 10 likely Republican primary voters choosing Trump and about one-third now choosing Haley.

Allies of Haley, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and other anti-Trump Republicans, had been urging Christie to exit, hoping a large portion of his supporters would flock to Haley, giving her a chance to turn the race into a two-candidate contest with Trump, the overwhelming favorite for the nomination.

The New Hampshire poll — which showed Christie at 12% — found about two-thirds of his supporters would select Haley as their second choice.

Christie had run as the race’s fiercest critic of the former president-turned-GOP front-runner. He warned voters against nominating a candidate who has been criminally indicted four times and could very well be a convicted felon by the November general election. And he argued Trump will lose in a rematch with President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee.

While his anti-Trump message attracted much media attention and helped bring in waves of small-dollar donations that kept him in the race — and on the debate stage — far longer than many expected, Christie was plagued by high unfavorability ratings in a party that remains deeply loyal to Trump.

He also remained mired in the single digits in national polling.

Nonetheless, Christie managed to outlast far better-known and better-funded candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, in part because he ran a frugal campaign. Instead of flying by private jet and hiring a litany of expensive consultants, he relied on a tight-knit staff of just over a dozen people and had a far lower “burn rate” than rivals like DeSantis, spending far less per day.

___

Peoples and Colvin reported from Des Moines, Iowa.

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Christie will announce at New Hampshire town hall that he’s ending presidential bid, AP source says