Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to end his presidential campaign, with an announcement Wednesday at 5 p.m., according to two sources with knowledge of the campaign and his plans.
Christie is not expected to make any endorsements at this point, according to one of the sources, who speculated that Christie may want to wait until after next Monday’s convention in Iowa before making any announcements to increase his influence.
A Christie fundraiser said he had heard from the candidate himself that he was going to drop out.
“I’m very upset about it. I wanted him to stay. He didn’t have a discussion with Nikki about it,” the insider told NBC News.
The decision still eliminates Trump’s most high-profile and consistent critic in the Republican primaries, with Christie sticking to his message against the former president and weathering the jitters and rushes in the GOP debates.
But Christie’s departure could also embolden Nikki Haley, who has been vocally critical of Trump and is fighting for a similar group of moderate voters in New Hampshire. Haley and Christie are leading polls among self-identified independents ahead of New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 open primary.
Christie has resisted calls in recent days to leave the party and make room for more support for Haley, arguing that he hurt his candidacy by reaching out to different audiences and refusing to endorse Trump. A Christie donor said the campaign spoke with him this week about organizing fundraisers and that they had a fundraising call last week where they discussed fundraisers on both coasts. The message was “all systems go,” the donor said.
But it has become clear that some anti-Trump Republican primary voters are struggling to stick with Christie as Haley emerges as a major threat to Trump in New Hampshire.
“My heart says to vote for Gov. Christie, but my mind says to vote for Nikki Haley,” said New Hampshire Republican Greg Leach, 49. Christie told NBC News after visiting City Hall on Tuesday. He said that his decision was based on the current voting figures. He considers Haley to be “within striking distance of Trump.”
“I want to vote for Christie, but I feel like my vote is going to be wasted now, and in a way, I voted for Trump,” Leach said.
Christie’s mission has been clear from the start of his campaign: Take on Trump. It was part of both a campaign strategy and a personal shopping spree after Christie became one of the first governors to endorse Trump during the 2016 primaries. Christie later supported Trump throughout his presidency, only to see the 2020 election and Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud result in the January 6 Capitol riots.
Christie apologized for endorsing Trump during the campaign digital advertising.
Christie focused most of his efforts behind his anti-Trump strategy in New Hampshire, thinking the more conservative Iowa would not buy into his message among the early voting states. He did not set foot in Iowa during the election campaign.
On town hall stages and during debates, Christie has repeatedly reiterated her belief that a Trump re-election would be dangerous and called out her other candidates for not doing the same.
During the fourth Republican presidential debate in December, Christie criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, saying, “We’ve had this trio, it’s like the race is between the four of us. The fifth boy who does not have the courage to show himself and stand here.
“I am in this race because the truth must be told. He’s useless,” Christie said, adding later that “there’s no bigger problem in this race.”
As of Tuesday, Christie was running new TV ads on a similar theme. In a new spot, Christie looked directly into the camera and said, “Most of the other candidates in this race are trying to look people in the eye and figure out what they want to hear. I look people in the eye and know that the truth is what they need to hear and what they deserve to hear.”
Trump wasn’t the only theme of Christie’s campaign: He also spoke frequently about addiction, echoing a theme of his 2016 campaign, when he talked about losing a friend to an overdose that went viral. He spent significant time visiting recovery centers in New Hampshire and gave a speech on drug policy in December.
However, Trump and Christie’s position on him have dominated his time in the race. Christie has also criticized Trump by regularly speaking about the importance of character. At an event in Rochester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, he mentioned a little girl in the audience who asked him a question and said, “I want her family to point to the White House again and say, ‘So be it.’ person.'”
As a result, Christie failed to garner much national support within the GOP. But he has struck a chord with some voters in New Hampshire, though Republican Gov. Chris Sunu’s much-touted endorsement went to Haley.
During a town hall in Hooksett, New Hampshire, in early December, Christie told a crowd of voters that no one is begging him to run this election cycle.
“I ran this time because I looked at the field and said none of these people are going to take it,” Christie said of Trump. “No one will tell the truth about him. And I have known him for 22 years. I have a duty to go out there and tell the truth about him. That’s what motivated me and made me cross the finish line to run.”
He often told constituents that they might not like everything he said, but he would speak as he always had.
While on the campaign trail, Christie also visited two war-torn countries. Ukraine in August In November, he advocated for Israel and the United States to send aid to both nations. He often told harrowing stories about what he saw in Ukraine while on the road, and he was the first and only Republican presidential candidate. Visiting Israel Just a few weeks after the start of the Israel-Hamas war.