Chris Christie Said the Quiet Part Out Loud

The candidates’ biggest threat isn’t on the stage.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yelled at businessman Vivek Ramaswamy during a particularly feisty exchange during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Wednesday night.Gerald Herbert/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Chris Christie said the quiet part out loud at the fourth Republican debate Wednesday night. The dominant figure in the Republican Party—former President Donald Trump—isn’t on the debate stage, and when the debate began, nobody talked about him despite his dominance in the polls.

When the former New Jersey governor finally wrestled some airtime from his three opponents—Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—he noted that none of them had taken on Trump directly.

“We’re 17 minutes into this debate and…we’ve had these three acting as if this race is between the four of us,” Christie said. “The fifth guy, who doesn’t have the guts to show up and stand here, he’s the one who, as you just put it, is way ahead in the polls.”

“The fact is that when you go and say the truth about somebody who is a dictator, a bully, who has taken shots at everybody…then I understand why these three are timid to say anything about it,” he added, calling Trump “Voldemort, he who shall not be named.”

Ramaswamy spent the early part of the debate railing against the “woke industrial complex” while attacking Haley. Haley and DeSantis, meanwhile, battled over who was more anti-trans. 

Christie has a point: Trump is, of course, leading President Joe Biden in five out of six battleground states, according to a sobering New York Times/Siena College poll that dropped last month. He’s also leading in Iowa, polling at over 45% just a month ahead of the caucus.  

But for all Christie’s grandstanding, he eventually took the bait. Just minutes later, he too was sparring with Ramaswamy, calling him “the most obnoxious blowhard in America” before dragging Ramaswamy for “attacking Nikki Haley’s basic intelligence, not her positions, her basic intelligence.” 

Later in the debate, the moderators forced the candidates to confront the elephant in the room: Trump’s fitness for office.

Christie came out swinging, alleging his opponents were “afraid to offend” and explicitly condemn Trump.

DeSantis conceded that he thinks “we need to have somebody younger.”

Ramaswamy alleged his three opponents had been “licking Donald Trump’s boots,” adding that he thought the real enemy was “the deep state” that he claimed Trump was unafraid to take on.

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate