If a candidate, or his associated political action committee, has an ad that’s being praised on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” it’s a good bet he’s probably not going to end up winning the Republican presidential nomination.
But Gov. Chris Christie — or rather, a pro-Christie PAC called Tell It Like It Is PAC — is doing just that. A new ad that debuted this week shows Trump, in a speech in the early days of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, praising Hezbollah as “smart.”
Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, is not Israel’s main antagonist in the war, but they have engaged in border skirmishes with Israel in recent weeks.
“Hezbollah’s very smart, they’re all very smart,” Trump is seen saying in the ad. This is followed by Christie, in a CNN interview, declaring of Trump that “he’s a fool.”
“Only a fool would make those kinds of comments,” Christie is seen telling Wolf Blitzer. “Only a fool would give comments that would give aid and comfort to Israel’s adversaries… this is someone who cares not about the American people, not about the people of Israel, but he cares about one person and one person only.
“And having a fool like Donald Trump, who would make those comments in the tone that he made them is proven to folks that he has no business,” Christie says in the ad.
Trump made several strange comments in the opening days of the war in Israel. He has also aired past beefs he has with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including Netanyahu’s public congratulations when Joe Biden won election as U.S. president in 2020, at a time when Trump was still contesting the results.
Christie was joined by other Republican candidates, including Ron DeSantis, who pounced on what Trump said about Israel. But while other Republican candidates have sometimes been reluctant to criticize Trump throughout the campaign, that hasn’t been the case with Christie, whose campaign has been almost entirely about opposing the ex-president and denying him another term.
Christie, then the governor of New Jersey, became the first establishment Republican to endorse Trump in his 2016 campaign. Christie was never given a job in the Trump administration, and eventually he fell out with the then-president, especially after Christie contracted COVID-19 during a debate prep session during the 2020 race and was hospitalized.
There’s been little indication, however, that Christie’s presidential run has gained any traction whatsoever. The latest Morning Consult poll has him with just 3 percent support in the Republican race, which has him in sixth place.
“Christie’s popularity has reached a new low as he continues his campaign attacking Trump,” Morning Consult said this week. “The latest survey shows 51% of potential GOP primary voters hold unfavorable views about him compared with 22% who view him favorably.”
One gets the sense that Christie ran with an eye toward getting to argue directly with Trump on the debate stage, but of course, Trump has refused to participate in debates so far, and may not appear in them at all. Christie drew lots of mockery in the second debate, earlier this month when he ripped Trump for ducking the debates and dubbed him “Donald Duck.”
In an interview this week, Christie ripped Donald Trump’s “awful temperament,” and predicted that he would violate the gag order recently placed on him by the judge in his federal criminal case in Washington.
“That’s why I’m out here, calling him out directly on this stuff… because his conduct is beneath the office that he was privileged to hold,” Christie said on MSNBC to Jen Psaki, the former Biden White House press secretary who now hosts a show on that channel.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.