“I’d rather lose by telling the truth than lie in order to win,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a New Hampshire crowd Wednesday evening as he announced the suspension of his presidential bid. He has not, as of yet, endorsed another candidate.
Whether by truth or by lies, Christie never had much of a chance at winning this Republican primary (outside of New Hampshire, where he’d spent most of his time and money, Christie was polling in the low single-digits). Even so, Christie deserves praise for being the lone candidate in the race with the courage to directly challenge the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.
“There is no bigger issue in this race than Donald Trump,” Christie said at the Republican debate in December, before calling Trump a “bully” and a “dictator” who Christie said was “unfit” for another term as president.
He was also the only candidate willing to point out that Trump’s trade wars accomplished nothing. His defense of parents’ rights and trans rights at the last debate was rooted in the belief that, in his words, “Republicans believe in less government, not more, and less involvement with government, not more involvement in people’s lives.” Mark it down, because that may be the last time in this presidential cycle you’ll hear a Republican make that sort of argument.
Christie struck what may be his most brutally truthful blow on Wednesday just moments before ending his campaign. A hot mic caught Christie predicting that former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would “get smoked” despite a recent rise in the polls in New Hampshire (where she’s spent gobs of money and stands to benefit from the ability of Democrats to cross over and vote in the GOP primary).
Don’t get me wrong: Christie has always been a bullshitter. His political career depended more on his blustery personality than his policy accomplishments—and his track record as governor was far from libertarian. That stuff about how Republicans should believe in less government? He didn’t exactly practice that approach when it came to, say, drug policy. And when Christie criticizes others for giving undue fealty to Trump, he’s also indicting his own past self.
But during what’s likely the final act of his political career, Christie made a seemingly sincere effort to correct some, though not all, of his past mistakes. And he was the rare Republican in the race who seemed interested in actually winning the nomination—as opposed to playing for second place and hoping prosecutors, the 14th Amendment, or the actuarial tables will prevent Trump from becoming the GOP nominee.
And he seemed to be having fun—which is more than can be said for most Americans stuck on this nightmare blunt rotation of an election cycle.
“This is the great thing about this country,” he said after a pointed criticism of Trump drew boos from the crowd at the GOP debate in August. “Booing is allowed, but it doesn’t change the truth.”
Telling the truth is allowed too, believe it or not, but it didn’t change the course of the race for Christie—or, in all likelihood, for the Republican Party.
Author: Eric Boehm