Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Sunday he didn’t believe Donald Trump’s suggestions that he might skip the first Republican primary debate next month because his 2024 rival’s ego won’t allow him to miss such a big event.
“I think he’ll be there because, look, I’ve known him for a long time,” Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “His ego, I think, will not permit him to have a big TV show that he’s not on. And I think he’d be enormously frustrated sitting back in Bedminster and watching what I’m going to do to him on that stage in absentia.”
Trump remains the front-runner in polls of potential GOP presidential hopefuls, with a wide gulf between himself and his next-closest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But a dozen people are vying for the Republican nomination, including Christie, and several have already cleared the necessary hurdles to appear at the first debate, set for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.
The former president has appeared skeptical of any debates with his fellow Republicans, telling Fox News last month: “Why would I let these people take shots at me?”
Christie said last week that he had secured donations from more than 40,000 individuals, a key threshold to appear. When “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos asked if Christie was trying to goad Trump to show up, the former governor issued his own challenge.
“I don’t think I have to, but I’ll be happy to say right now: Come on, Donald, get on the stage and defend your record,” he said. “You know, if you want to be the nominee, you need to defend your record. And he has a record of four years as president where he didn’t deliver on a lot of issues that Republicans cared deeply about.”
Christie has moved to paint himself as the alternative to Trump, saying during his campaign announcement last month that the former president was a “bitter, angry man who wants power back.”