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Chris Christie: Trump’s ego won’t let him skip debates

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday was skeptical of former President Trump skipping the GOP debates after Trump doubled down on suggestions he didn’t need to participate in them because he’s so far ahead in the polls.

Trump repeatedly raised the prospect of skipping debates during his previous runs for the White House in 2016 and 2020, taking issue with everything from the TV networks hosting them – both Fox News and CNN – to the proposed moderators for such events as he did with then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelley. 

Christie said on Sunday that he didn’t believe Trump would actually skip the next debates because his ego wouldn’t let him.

“His ego will not permit him not to be on that stage. … I can tell you this from being the guy who prepped him for debates in ‘16 and in ‘20, he believes he will win every debate he’s in and that [the] ego part of him will prevent him from skipping,” Christie said during his panelist appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie helped Trump debate prepare during his previous runs for president, including acting as a stand-in for Trump’s Democratic opponents at those times.

Trump, who is polling as the clear frontrunner by double-digits in the GOP primary and also beats Biden in a potential general election contest, according to recent national polls, sees participating in such debates as doing him no favors and subjecting him to unnecessary scrutiny.

“When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused?” Trump asked on Truth Social in late April.

There are two Republican presidential debates planned this year, the first being in Milwaukee in August. The date of the second debate has not yet been determined but Trump has taken issue with the latter being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California because Fred Ryan, the publisher of The Washington Post with whom Trump has clashed, is chairman of its board.

But the strategy doesn’t come without risks of an alternative candidate emerging to make the case the GOP must move on from Trump.

That’s a consistent message blasted out by Christie, who is mulling his own bid for president.

Christie would not confirm Sunday if he would jump into the 2024 race despite other ABC panelists such as Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and former Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan – who is also trying to get the Republican Party to move on from Trump  – pressuring him to confirm if he’ll take on Trump head on.

“Until somebody’s out there and taking it to him, this is all being done in a vacuum,” Christie said.

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“So is that going to be you?” co-anchor Jonathan Karl asked in response.

“I don’t know but I’ll tell you this, someone better do it,” Christie answered. “You have to get in the ring and do it and take the risk that goes along with that.”

When Karl asked what was holding Christie back, he responded: “These are tough decisions.” 

“Let’s get this done, we want to see you in that ring,” Hogan told Christie.

“If you’re ready to debate Donald Trump then you should be prepared to run against him right now,” Brazile said, to which Christie did not respond.

Tags Chris Christie Chris Christie Donald Trump

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