Christie applauded after slamming Trump at the GOP governor’s meeting

Chris Christie

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received a round of applause at an annual meeting of Republican governors Tuesday morning after blaming former President Trump for the GOP’s failure in the last three elections, according to three sources in the room and a fourth person familiar with the speech.

Why it matters: The chorus of Republican officials calling for the GOP to break away from Trump is growing louder, pushing the party to the brink of civil war just as the former president prepares to announce his 2024 comeback bid.

Driving the news: Christie spoke to hundreds of people — Republican governors, senior donors and advisers — at an Orlando hotel, less than 200 miles north of the Mar-a-Lago resort, where Trump is expected to make his announcement Tuesday night.

  • Christie, a former Trump ally now contemplating his own 2024 presidential campaign, said voters “crazy rejected” in the 2022 midterm election and Republicans lost to poor candidates.
  • But he wasn’t just pointing out last week’s disappointing results: Republicans lost in 2018, 2020 and 2022, Christie said, with Trump being the one constant that has weighed on the party across all three election cycles.
  • Christie, the former chair of the Republican Governors Association, pointed out that there were 31 GOP governors when he left the role in 2014. Now it’s 26 – five gone in eight years, all because Trump chooses his candidates solely on the basis of loyalty, he argues.

Between the lines: Christie singled out Doug Mastriano the far-right, Trump-backed Pennsylvania Republican candidate who lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro by nearly 15 points.

  • Christie said the RGA made a wise decision not to invest in Pennsylvania because Mastriano was a hopeless, lost cause.
  • He called on the RGA to get involved in Republican primary elections to prevent these extreme candidates from being nominated.

The Intrigue: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose rising profile as a potential 2024 challenger has divided the party and infuriated Trump, was not in the room.

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu were among those in attendance.
  • Ducey — the RGA co-chair who will be succeeded by Democrat Katie Hobbs as Arizona governor after narrowly defeating Trump-backed Kari Lake — gave a warm applause after Christie’s speech.