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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth Political Union co-host former Gov. Chris Christie

Christie spoke about his 2024 presidential bid as part of the “Path to the Presidency” event series.

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On Nov. 2, the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Dartmouth Political Union co-hosted 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., as part of the “Path to the Presidency” event series. According to a statement from the Rockefeller Center, approximately 200 people attended the event in person, while an additional 1,000 viewers watched online.

During the event, Christie repeatedly denounced his primary rival, former President Donald Trump, and predicted that Trump would be convicted in his Georgia criminal trial. Christie emphasized the importance of his own honesty and character, citing his successes managing bipartisan relief efforts to Hurricane Sandy. Christie expressed uncertainty over the final outcome of the primary, noting that the state-by-state electoral system can prevent early front-runners from winning. 

Christie announced his bid for the presidency in June and has been one of the most critical candidates of Trump. Christie previously ran for president in 2016 but suspended his campaign following the New Hampshire primary. 

Christie began the event with brief remarks: “It is an extraordinarily dangerous time in the world,” he said, adding that he felt it necessary for a president during difficult times to have character and that “it’s time to dispense with TV tough guys.”

“When the world is at peace and the economy is going well, those kinds of folks aren’t what I’d want as president, but we can’t live with them in times like this,” Christie said.

In describing his “first motivation” for entering the presidential race, Christie said his goal “was to make sure that someone was here to tell the truth” about Trump’s term in office. He criticized his primary opponents, who he described as “fear[ing] even saying [Trump’s] name.”

“I just decided there is no way that we could let him be president again and no way that we can have this campaign where no one’s willing to take him on.”

Christie ended his remarks with an evaluation of U.S. foreign policy, labeling China, Iran, North Korea and Russia as “a foursome of evil,” adding that “they are working to disrupt the world.”

Christie’s speech was followed by a 12 minute conversation with Rockefeller Center executive director Anna Mahoney, who asked about Christie’s experience campaigning in New Hampshire, his fiscal policy and his reaction to Trump’s front-runner status. Regarding New Hampshire’s position as the nation’s first presidential primary, Christie praised the state’s election as “the most open and available process in the country.”

When Mahoney asked Christie about his plans for the federal deficit, he emphasized his prior success as governor in “balanc[ing] the budget without having to raise taxes.” He added that he experienced “near-term political pain in order to get the fiscal house in order,” and said that he expected “the same thing would happen on steroids with the federal budget.”

Following questions from Mahoney, the event transitioned into a Q&A segment between Christie and the audience, which began with a question about independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s impact on the race. Christie responded by explaining that “if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, [Kennedy’s candidacy] hurts Trump.” Christie suggested that there may be some level of overlap between support for Kennedy and support for Trump.

“For those voters who are concerned about Trump’s legal problems and … the conspiracy nuttiness, RFK Jr. might just be their guy,” Christie said.

Christie added, however, that if any other candidate emerges as the Republican Party nominee,  Kennedy may detract supporters from Biden. He said that in this case, “the people who [Kennedy] will be drawing are kind of the really disaffected, far-left liberals,” and that therefore  Kennedy would “hurt Biden more.” 

Christie also speculated about the possibility of a general election debate between Trump and Kennedy Jr., predicting that “if Donald Trump is the nominee, Joe Biden will not participate in debates next fall.”

In response to a question about renewable energy, Christie said that he “believe[s] climate change is real and that human activity contributes to it.” He suggested that “we should be using nuclear energy much more broadly,” noting that 53% of electricity generated in New Jersey comes from nuclear power.

Christie concluded the event with a message about bipartisanship.

“If you’re a Republican, I’m not always going to do everything you want me to do if I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the country,” he said. “And I would say the same thing to the Democrats.” 

Matthew Coleman ’25 said that the event “was largely what I expected from Chris Christie,” adding that guest speaker events at the College are “important” to maintain the College as a “politically positioned school.”