When former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the stage on Saturday at the Florida Freedom Summit, he was clearly expecting a bad reaction from the crowd.
But the way Christie crashed and burned was even worse.
He couldn’t have killed his campaign better if he’d called them “deplorables.”
The man whose entire campaign seems to be built on attacking former President Donald Trump — the GOP primary leader who’s supported by more than 45 percent of Republican primary voters, according to the RealClearPolitics average on Sunday — stayed true to form, opening with an assault from the stage on audience members who had the temerity to boo him.
He lectured them. He hectored them. He insulted them. And in the process, he almost certainly killed whatever vestige of hope his campaign for the GOP nomination ever might have had.
Check it out below. Christie spoke for 15 minutes, but it was the first five that doomed him.
“Now look,” Christie said about 30 seconds in. “Every one of those boos. Every one of those catcalls. Every one of those yells will not … solve one problem we face in this country. And will not make this country better.”
(The fact is, exactly those same things could be said about the Christie campaign.)
And then he got personal:
“Your anger,” he said, his voice beginning to rise, the condescension and contempt becoming more apparent. “Your anger … Your anger against the truth is re-pre-hen-si-ble.”
The crowd responded about as well as any crowd openly attacked from the stage would — with some members booing audibly to the point where Christie apparently felt the need to insult them again.
“This type of pettiness is beneath, beneath the process of electing a president,” he said.
(Again, many Republicans — and Democrats for that matter — might say the exact same thing about Christie.)
“If your arguments are so strong, if your arguments are so great, and mine are so bad, then just keep quiet,” Christie said. “Let me make my awful arguments and then you can just reject them out of hand.
“But the problem is, the problem is, the problem is, you fear the truth. The problem is, you want to shout down any voice that says anything different than what you want to hear.”
Well, if the audience at Gaylord Palms resort was in Kissimmee to hear a speech that was original, sincere and something that didn’t sound like a product of an AI program sorting through the politics of the past six weeks, Christie had a point. Because his speech after his diatribe was unoriginal, hackneyed, and sounded like the product of an AI program sorting through the politics of the past six weeks.
Christie said he was pro-Israel, pro-border security, and pro-engagement with the rest of the world — it was political pablum that couldn’t even rise to the level of pandering.
From a moral point of view, basically any Republican — and decent human being — is sickened and infuriated by the Oct. 7 terrorist atrocities that occurred in Israel, and possibly more sickened and infuriated by the leftist response — which has attacked Israel for its very existence and glorified the barbaric Hamas killers.
From a factual point of view, where Christie no doubt intended his speech to be a tour de force of American history, it came across as trite. It could have been written by a sixth-grader with a decent ear for rhetoric and access to Google’s liberally slanted searches.
And from an effectiveness point of view, it was a disaster comparable to former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s appearance at the Freedom Summit earlier in the day. (Hutchinson also attacked Trump, naturally.)
Among other things, Christie helped propagate the great liberal myth that the Trump presidency constituted some kind of “turning inward” on the part of the United States, or turning away from the rest of the world.
It’s true that Trump changed the terms on which the U.S. deals with the rest of the world, and to the United States’ benefit.
An honest politician (and an honest establishment media) would also acknowledge that the world was largely at peace during the Trump presidency, that Vladimir Putin’s Russia didn’t invade Ukraine (until Trump successor Joe Biden basically invited it), that it was the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords that were responsible for real steps toward peace in the Middle East, and that the southern border was, if nothing else, far more secure than it is today, and heading toward and even more secure future.
Christie — to his disgrace — acknowledged none of that, contenting himself with a grade-school sketch of American history, an implicit attack on Trump and an explicit attack on his supporters that ranks with Hillary Clinton’s infamous “deplorables” line as a memorable way to alienate Republican voters.
(It’s worse, actually, since Christie was in the process of attempting to court Republican voters. Courting Republicans is one of the few things Clinton hasn’t been accused of.)
“Thank you for having me today,” Christie said as he concluded his speech and the boos rained down. “I appreciate it very much.”
There’s no doubt he appreciated the stage time. It was free PR, after all, for a dying campaign that was lingering at 2.3 percent support in the RCP average on Sunday.
But after that crash-and-burn appearance, that campaign deserves to be dead.
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