Last week’s release of the second quarter’s fundraising figures for the 2024 presidential candidates produced two notable news stories. One was that President Joe Biden and his associated fundraising arms raised $72 million between his late-April reelection launch and June 30. This financial haul, double what former President Donald Trump raised in the second quarter, poured 72 buckets of cold water on the “Dementia-Joe-isn’t-supported-by-Democrats” narrative that had gained currency, pushed and peddled by Republicans.
And it was similarly unhelpful to wishful thinking in Republican circles that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the candidate from Pluto, poses a “headache” for the president. This isn’t the case, except perhaps on Pluto.
The other news was that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose uphill battle for the GOP presidential nomination was initially deemed by pundits to be destined for a rapid flameout, had already collected contributions from over 40,000 donors in the first 35 days of his candidacy. This lifted him over one of the qualifying thresholds for Republicans hoping to participate in the party’s Aug. 23 presidential debate. Christie is not on the debate stage yet; he has to poll at 1% or more among Republicans in three approved polls.
But with a recent Morning Consult poll showing him at 3%, he is getting there. Meanwhile, a super PAC supporting Christie, called Tell It Like It Is, seems likely to generate substantial financial backing from those who would like to see Trump flattened in the debate, and who see Christie as the only challenger capable of exposing the twice-indicted former president for the fraud that he is in prime time.
A former prosecutor, Christie has not minced words about Trump, which sets him very far apart from his fellow candidates, who are all mince, all the time. The reason for Trump’s felonious pilfering of classified documents, Christie says, is because “he wants to pretend he’s still president.” While other Republicans have hemmed, hawed and hidden when asked whether they would pardon Trump if he’s convicted and they’re elected, Christie is unhesitatingly unafraid of heresy. “I would have a hard time considering any pardon,” he says. As for Trump’s threat to skip next month’s debate, Christie is blunt about the old draft dodger’s latest case of bone spurs. “If Donald Trump doesn’t show up,” Christie says, “he’s a coward.”
When it comes to Trump, Christie goes where no other Republican dares to go, which, of course, isn’t necessarily saying much. When it recently emerged that the Money-Funneler-In-Chief had had one of his committees pay Melania Trump $155,000 for “event planning and consulting,” Christie unloaded on them both. “Trump is shameless,” he tweeted. “A billionaire using donor money to pay personal legal fees and now paying his wife more than 2x what the average American makes just to pick some tableware. There’s grifting, and then there’s Trump grifting. Undisputed champs.”
On matters relating to Donald Trump, the Republican field runs the gamut from kneeling to groveling. To say that Christie stands out is an understatement. A “tell” that Trump doesn’t relish having Christie hanging around on a prolonged basis to tell the truth about him came with Trump’s attack on Christie for recommending that he appoint FBI Director Christopher Wray. “(Wray) was recommended very strongly by Chris Christie, who is, you know, a sad case,” Trump told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo this past weekend. Christie isn’t inclined to back down. “I think Chris Wray has done a very good job,” he says.
A new poll of New Hampshire Republican voters showed Christie in a tie for second place with Ron DeSantis, poised to overtake the Florida governor, who is in free-fall. Evidently tens of millions in cash on hand cannot cure a repellent personality. But an awful lot would have to happen in order for a Republican base so ill-disposed to acknowledging the truth about Trump to reward someone like Christie for telling it. In the meantime, however, Christie, a congenital brawler, seems to be all in, and is serving notice that he intends to keep on punching.