Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie called former President Trump a “certified loser, verified coward,” following a Friday report that the 2024 GOP front-runner plans to skip next week’s first primary debate.
“Surprise, surprise…the guy who is out on bail from four jurisdictions and can’t defend his reprehensible conduct, is running scared and hiding from the debate stage,” the former New Jersey governor wrote Friday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Trump — certified loser, verified coward.”
The New York Times reported Friday Trump has decided to skip the Wednesday debate on Fox News and instead sit for an interview with former network host Tucker Carlson.
The report comes after weeks of speculation around if Trump will get on the stage in Milwaukee as the former president signaled multiple times he may not participate, citing his strong lead in the GOP primary polls. Recent polling from Morning Consult shows Trump leading the GOP primary race with 57 percent support, compared to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trailing behind at 16 percent and Christie at 3 percent.
Christie, a former Trump supporter who has become one of his most vocal critics, called on him multiple times in recent weeks to participate in the debate. Earlier this month, Christie said Trump not debating shows a “lack of respect,” for Republican voters. That same day, he responded to Trump’s attacks on his weight and challenged the former president to attend the debate and “say it to my face.”
Earlier this week, Christie said he expected Trump to sign the loyalty pledge required by the Republican National Committee to participate in the debate, pointing to Trump’s initial refusal to sign the loyalty pledge in the 2016 primary before eventually doing so. Trump said last week he will not sign the pledge.
When The Hill asked for comment on the reported agreement between Trump and Carlson, an aide for the former president said his campaign “hasn’t confirmed anything on our end” and cautioned against “getting too far ahead” as it relates to the former president’s plans.