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Former New Jersey Governor and 2024 GOP Presidential candidate Chris Christie delivered a lively and insightful presentation on the state of American politics before an audience of ACEC Convention attendees.

Having completed a lengthy CNN town hall only hours before, Christie began his remarks by joking he was operating on only four hours of sleep, warning attendees that they could be in for an “interesting morning.”

Christie shared his unique blend of humor, American history, and deep inside the Beltway expertise, sharing his impressions on where our nation is headed politically after the turmoil of the last decade. He regaled attendees with tales from his time as an advisor to former President Donald Trump, including an eyebrow-raising reminder that it was he who stood in as Hillary Clinton during Trump’s 2016 debate prep.

“You will go to bed tonight and that image will haunt you,” joked Christie.

Christie remarked that when Trump was elected in 2016, his mistake was conflating his slim electoral victory with a wide personal mandate. “You had the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history running against each other. Trump didn’t win that election. Hillary lost it.”

In early 2020, as the pandemic and primaries converged, President Trump asked Christie which Democrat he believed would be his most formidable opponent. Without hesitation, Christie responded: “Joe Biden.”

The President was skeptical, to say the least, but Christie was insistent. He asked Trump whether he had ever run for student council president.

“He hadn’t,” Christie said. “I HAVE. And what drives student council elections is having the most friends and the least enemies. 2020 was going to be a student council election – and there was no way Donald Trump was ever going to have the most friends or the least enemies.”

In 2020, Christie again stood in as Trump’s debate partner, this time playing the role of Joe Biden. On the day of the debate, he said Trump asked what his one piece of advice would be in debating Biden.

“Let him talk,” Christie said, pointing to Biden’s reputation as gaffe prone. “There is an overwhelming likelihood that the more he talks, the more trouble he will get into.”

But Trump would not let Biden talk, and instead interrupted nearly 100 times in a 90-minute debate.

“I knew after [that debate] the election was over. There was no pathway back after that,” Christie concluded.

Christie went on to point to Trump’s continued influence over American politics, namely the electoral “red wave” that failed to materialize in the 2022 midterm. Those muted gains, Christie argued, were owed to a slew of what he called “awful Republican candidates,” most of them endorsed by Trump.

“The candidate matters the most. More than money, momentum, pace. The American people are smart. They look beyond almost everything else to see who you are,” he said.

During Q&A, Christie was asked how he and other Republican challengers can break through the formidable Trump wall in the upcoming primary season.

“This time in 2015, the two Republican frontrunners were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. In 2007, Hillary Clinton was beating Barack Obama by double digits. This is why we have elections. That’s the great thing about America. None of us has any idea where this [election] is going. But it’s up to you. You get to decide.”

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June 13, 2023



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