Chris Christie, Eyeing ’24 Run, Takes Shots at DeSantis

The former New Jersey governor mocked the Florida governor’s tussles with Disney and also criticized Donald Trump during a talk hosted by Semafor.

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Chris Christie, Eyeing ’24 Run, Takes Shots at DeSantis |

Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking in Las Vegas last year. On Tuesday, he suggested that Gov. Ron DeSantis’s efforts to restrict Disney in Florida ran counter to traditional conservative principles.

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida as a fake conservative during an event in Washington on Tuesday, one of a string of meetings and stops as he considers a second Republican presidential campaign.

The comments, made at an event hosted by the media outlet Semafor, were among a wide range of topics that Mr. Christie touched on, including abortion rights and his feelings about former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

Mr. Christie took a shot at Mr. DeSantis over his efforts to target Disney, a top business in Florida, over a fight that began when Mr. DeSantis signed legislation that banned classroom teaching and discussion about gender identity and sexual orientation in certain grade schools.

Mr. Christie suggested that Mr. DeSantis’s efforts to restrict Disney were against traditional conservative principles about small government.

“I don’t think Ron DeSantis is conservative, based on actions towards Disney,” he said. “Where are we headed here now that, if you express disagreement in this country, the government is now going to punish you? To me, that’s what I always thought liberals did, and now all of a sudden here we are participating in this with a Republican governor.”

Who’s Running for President in 2024?

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The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and Donald Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:

Donald Trump. The former president is running to retake the office he lost in 2020. Though somewhat diminished in influence within the Republican Party — and facing several legal investigations — he retains a large and committed base of supporters, and he could be aided in the primary by multiple challengers splitting a limited anti-Trump vote.

Nikki Haley. The former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador under Trump has presented herself as a member of “a new generation of leadership” and emphasized her life experience as a daughter of Indian immigrants. She was long seen as a rising G.O.P. star but her allure in the party has declined amid her on-again, off-again embrace of Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy. The multimillionaire entrepreneur and author describes himself as “anti-woke” and is known in right-wing circles for opposing corporate efforts to advance political, social and environmental causes. He has never held elected office and does not have the name recognition of most other G.O.P. contenders.

Asa Hutchinson. The former governor of Arkansas is one of a relatively small number of Republicans who have been openly critical of Trump. Hutchinson has denounced the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and said Trump should drop out of the presidential race.

President Biden. While Biden has not formally declared his candidacy for a second term, he is widely expected to run. But there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats over whether he should seek re-election given his age. If he does run, Biden’s strategy is to frame the race as a contest between a seasoned leader and a conspiracy-minded opposition.

Marianne Williamson. The self-help author and former spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey is running for a second time. In her 2020 campaign, the Democrat called for a federal Department of Peace, supported reparations for slavery and called Trumpism a symptom of an illness in the American psyche that could not be cured with political policies.

Others who might run. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are seen as weighing Republican bids for the White House. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime vaccine skeptic, filed paperwork to run as a Democrat.

At another point, he mocked Disney’s escape from Mr. DeSantis’s efforts to appoint a board to oversee it, using references to Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“That’s not the guy I want sitting across from President Xi and negotiating our next agreement with China, or sitting across from Putin and trying to resolve what’s happening in Ukraine, if you can’t see around a corner that Bob Iger created for you,” Mr. Christie said. (Mr. Iger, a longtime Disney leader, returned as Disney’s chief executive late last year.)

Mr. Christie has been meeting with his staff and some donors and soliciting input from people, as he aims to decide in the coming weeks whether to run for president.

If he does run, he would start at a disadvantage in a party redefined by Mr. Trump. But as Mr. DeSantis has stumbled at times before formally entering the race, some anti-Trump voices in the Republican Party have grown more interested in a Christie candidacy.

Mr. Trump has taunted Mr. DeSantis relentlessly, while Mr. DeSantis has largely declined to push back on Mr. Trump. A television ad from the super PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis took issue with Mr. Trump for attacking Mr. DeSantis, a fellow Republican; Mr. Trump has never been bothered by such raised eyebrows.

But Mr. Christie has been willing to take on both Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis, who was meeting with lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday.

A senior member of Mr. DeSantis’s political team, who was not authorized to speak publicly, replied by insulting Mr. Christie and said he was resorting to attacking a “winner.”

Mr. Christie and Mr. Trump have gone from friends to opponents to allies after Mr. Trump became the nominee in 2016, beating Mr. Christie and all other rivals in the New Hampshire primary. He was the chairman of Mr. Trump’s transition team before top Trump aides and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law fired him from the role after Election Day; still, Mr. Christie remained aligned with Mr. Trump. The president considered him for chief of staff at one point in late 2018, but Mr. Christie took himself out of the running.

Mr. Christie told the crowd that Mr. Trump hit a point of no return with his lies that the election was stolen from him.

“There’s a difference between spinning politically to try to put yourself in a better position before the vote happens and after the vote happens to say it was ‘rigged,’” Mr. Christie said.

He also faulted Mr. Trump for declaring in a recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference that “I am your retribution” to people who believe they’ve been wronged.

“I think a president should be our inspiration, not our retribution,” Mr. Christie said.


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