NEW YORK (AP) — Allies of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have launched a new super PAC to support his expected candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
Christie has painted himself as the only potential candidate willing to directly take on former President Donald Trump, who is currently leading the GOP field by wide margins. The former governor and federal prosecutor was a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, but broke with the former president over his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, and has emerged as a leading Trump critic in the years since.
The new group, “Tell It Like It Is” — a riff on Christie’s 2016 campaign slogan — will be led by GOP operative Brian Jones, as well as Republican National Committee member Bill Palatucci and Russ Schriefer, all longtime advisers.
“Governor Christie has proven he’s unafraid to tell it like it is and is willing to confront the hard truths that currently threaten the future of the Republican Party,” Jones said in a statement. “Now more than ever we need leaders that have the courage to say not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.”
The new group’s launch was first reported by The New York Times.
Christie, who is expected to enter the race “imminently,” according to one person familiar with his thinking who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss his plans, will likely face an uphill battle to the nomination if he goes through with a run. He is currently polling at the bottom of the large candidate pack, and there appears to be little appetite in the party for an anti-Trump candidate, even as many Republican voters say they are open to an alternative.
But allies believe that Christie, who has been working as an ABC News analyst, has a unique ability to communicate and that, should he run, he can help prevent a repeat of 2016, when Trump’s rivals largely refrained from attacking him directly, wrongly assuming he would implode on his own.
Christie has also said repeatedly that he will not run if he does not see a path to victory. “I’m not a paid assassin,” he recently told Politico.
While Christie is expected to spend much of his time in early-voting New Hampshire, as he did in 2016 (before finishing a disappointing sixth), advisers believe the path to the nomination runs through Trump and envision an unconventional, national campaign with a focus on garnering media attention and directly engaging with the current frontrunner.
Super PACs can raise unlimited funds, but are barred from coordinating directly with campaigns.