As Republican candidates enter the race for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination, Times columnists, Opinion writers and others will assess their strengths and weaknesses with a scorecard. We rate the candidates on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 means the candidate will probably drop out before any caucus or primary voting; 10 means the candidate has a very strong chance of receiving the party’s nomination next summer. This entry assesses Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey.
Candidate strength averages
Ron DeSantis: 6.1
Tim Scott: 4.6
Nikki Haley: 3.5
Mike Pence: 3.0
Asa Hutchinson: 2.3
Chris Christie: 2.0
How seriously should we take Chris Christie’s candidacy?
Frank Bruni Medium seriously, not for his minuscule potential to be the nominee but for his somewhat greater potential to diminish Donald Trump and to scramble the overall picture. Among Trump’s challengers, he has a singular combination of meanness and keenness, and he’s not vying for veep. He won’t walk on eggshells. He’ll do some vengeful, spiteful Jersey jitterbug on them.
Jane Coaston Mildly.
Michelle Cottle As a potential president, not very. As someone who could rough up Trump for the entire field — a political picador of sorts — he has potential.
Ross Douthat Unless he invents a time dial that spins us back to 2012, the year he probably should have run for president, not seriously at all.
David French There’s a distinction between Chris Christie’s presence in the race and his candidacy. His candidacy isn’t serious. There is zero path to victory. But his presence might matter, just as it did when he demolished Marco Rubio’s candidacy in a 2016 primary debate.
Nicole Hemmer Chris Christie is a deeply unpopular politician, but he’s also a man on a mission: to take out Trump. Understood in that light, he’s worth paying attention to, if only to see which of Trump’s weaknesses he’s able to exploit.
Katherine Mangu-Ward He’s having fun with it. So should we.
Daniel McCarthy He’s not a plausible contender. But he must sense that he’s not any less plausible than the other alternatives to Donald Trump, so why not run?
What matters most about him as a presidential candidate?
Bruni He’s not fashioning himself as Trump-plus, Trump-minus or any other improved version of Trump. He’s the anti-Trump, imploring Republicans to grapple with who Trump is and how far the party has staggered from its supposed principles. That’s a noble play even if it’s a self-aggrandizing ploy.
Coaston He believes that there is a way to be a Republican that isn’t Trumpian, and he believes that Americans will respond to that version of the G.O.P.
Cottle Well, someone needs to experiment with going hard at the MAGA king. If he can muster the will, Christie has skill.
Douthat There’s a narrative in which having played a crucial role in Donald Trump’s 2016 ascent — shivving Trump’s rivals on the debate stage and then offering him an early endorsement — Christie will now play a crucial role in his downfall, by attacking Trump with the gusto he once brought to taking down Marco Rubio. But I’m not sure that Christie will even qualify for the debate stage; if he does, I suspect he’ll be strongly tempted to attack his non-Trump rivals as often as he swings at Trump; and even if he attacks Trump, I don’t think he’s particularly well positioned to prosecute the case.
French Christie is a guided missile aimed rhetorically right at Trump.
Hemmer Christie bullies well. In the 2016 primaries, he relished eviscerating Senator Rubio. He failed to do the same to Trump at the time, but seven years later, he has plenty of new material to work with.
Mangu-Ward The conventional wisdom holds that Christie can take a bite out of Trump’s support by getting in some one-liners at the debates. But that gives too much weight to the debates themselves. There is simply no zinger zingy enough to bring down Trump — or to overcome Christie’s mixed record as a smart, accomplished governor whose pragmatism too often bleeds into the appearance of opportunism or even corruption.
McCarthy He’ll make other not-Trumps seem bland by comparison. Christie’s ridicule won’t stop the ex-president but could maim anyone else unlucky enough to be its target.
What do you find most inspiring — or unsettling — about his vision for America?
Bruni Well, he’s wagering that America is better than Trump — that a critical mass of Republicans can finally grasp the Trump threat and see the Trump damage. I’m inspired by that possibility, no matter how remote.
Coaston I don’t find his vision — a particular kind of American stasis — particularly inspiring or unsettling.
Cottle Does he have one? Does it matter?
Douthat Nothing in particular, since I don’t think he’s offering one yet.
French By far the most inspiring aspect of Christie’s candidacy is his vision for a Trump-free G.O.P. By far the most unsettling is Christie’s previous sycophantic capitulation to the same man he attacks today. How much can any voter trust that Christie has learned his lesson?
Hemmer People run for president for all sorts of reasons other than to become president: to promote new policies, break glass ceilings, increase book sales. Some mix of genuine concern for the party and vengeance (Trump booted Christie as transition chair in 2016 and most likely gave him a grave case of Covid in 2020) isn’t the worst reason to run.
Mangu-Ward Christie’s vision of America seems to be one where Donald Trump is not president. For some, perhaps that is inspiring enough.
McCarthy His vision for America is New Jersey, and most Republicans, at least, find that unsettling.
Imagine you’re a G.O.P. operative or campaign manager. What’s your elevator pitch for a Christie candidacy?
Bruni By the Iowa caucuses, Trump could be under multiple indictments and in such a flamboyant mental tailspin that Republicans must listen seriously to his rivals. Are they really going to prefer DeSantis’s whine to Christie’s roar?
Coaston New Jersey normalcy.
Cottle Takes a bully to smack a bully.
Douthat Don’t want Trump? The rules are clear: Only a tristate-area Republican can defeat another tristate-area Republican.
French No one is more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose.
Hemmer You want a straight-talking, no-holds-barred candidate who will pummel your enemies but stop short of fomenting an insurrection? Christie’s your guy.
Mangu-Ward Spicy words, bland policies.
McCarthy Wouldn’t it be fun to see him debate Joe Biden?
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