Former New Jersey Governor and longtime Donald Trump ally Chris Christie joined in on the ridicule of the former President following his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend. Trump’s speech in Orlando, Florida, was met with a mixed reception, with many noting the lower than expected attendance and enthusiasm.
Christie, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” suggested that the event should have been renamed “TPAC,” or “Trump PAC,” due to the focus on the former President and the lack of other conservative voices. “Let’s be honest, the reason CPAC’s attendance was down this year is that President Trump lost,” Christie said, adding that it was time for the party to “move on.”
Trump’s speech at CPAC was similar to many of his past campaign rallies, with frequent attacks on the media and Democrats, as well as claims that he won the 2020 election, which has been widely discredited. However, the audience seemed less engaged than in the past, with many reports suggesting that Trump’s speech lacked the energy and enthusiasm that had become a hallmark of his rallies.
The former President’s appearance at CPAC comes as the Republican party grapples with how to move forward following his defeat in the 2020 election and his subsequent impeachment trial. Some members of the party, such as Senator Mitt Romney, have called for a break with Trump and a move towards a more traditional conservative agenda, while others, like Senator Ted Cruz, have embraced Trumpism and continue to support the former President.
Christie, who has had a complicated relationship with Trump over the years, made it clear in the interview that he believes it is time for the party to move beyond Trump and focus on issues that matter to Americans. “CPAC was always about ideas, and the exchange of ideas, and unfortunately, over the course of the last four years, it turned into something different,” he said.
While Christie’s comments were not unexpected, they do offer a window into the ongoing struggles within the Republican party over the future direction of the party. Some, like former Governor Nikki Haley, have suggested that the party needs to distance itself from Trump and his divisive rhetoric. Others, like Cruz and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, have embraced Trumpism and have continued to support the former President even as he faces multiple investigations and legal challenges.
Ultimately, the ongoing debate within the Republican party over Trump’s future role in the party is likely to define its direction for years to come. Those who support Trump argue that he remains a powerful force within the party, and that his base of supporters is critical to the party’s success in future elections. Those who oppose Trump argue that he has damaged the party’s image and that his continued involvement in the party will only drive away moderate voters.
When asked by “This Week” host Martha Raddatz if he would support Trump if he were to run for President again in 2024, Christie stated that he would not offer his support. “I would not,” he said. “And, listen, I voted for the guy twice. But, you know, elections have consequences, and the consequences of the 2020 election was that Donald Trump was defeated.”
Christie’s comments are likely to be a bellwether for other Republicans who are grappling with the same question. Many Republicans are looking for a way to move beyond the divisiveness of the past four years and to rebuild the party as a more inclusive and moderate force within American politics. It is unclear whether Trump’s continued involvement in the party will help or hinder that effort.
In conclusion, Chris Christie’s comments regarding Donald Trump’s appearance at CPAC highlight the ongoing debate within the Republican party over the former President’s future role in the party. While many continue to support Trump, others believe that the party needs to move beyond him in order to rebuild and attract moderate voters. As the party struggles to define its future direction, it remains to be seen whether Trump’s base of support will remain a critical part of the party’s electoral strategy.