By Michael Mitsanas
Christie, who is running to be the GOP’s presidential nominee, used his address at the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington to make the case for his presently anemic White House bid, touting his record as New Jersey’s governor and assailing the former president’s record.
“I’m running because he’s let us down,” Christie said of Trump, as some in the audience began to boo. Trump has not assumed responsibility for his past mistakes, Christie said, describing him as a failed leader unfit to serve another term in the White House.
“You can boo all you want,” Christie said as the jeers grew louder.
“But here’s the thing, our faith teaches us that people have to take responsibility for what they do,” Christie added, this time as audible clapping began to clash with the boos. “People have to stand up and take accountability for what they do.”
As the contrasting clamor of boos and claps began to quiet, Christie moved to justify his frequent criticism of the former president.
“Those kinds of things,” Christie said, “makes our country smaller.”
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for the Christie campaign said the former governor’s speech implored Christians to contrast their support of Trump with their faith, and pointed to a tweet in which Christie urged fellow Republicans to “stop hiding from the truth.”
“Some of these tough truths were met with boos and others with applause,” the statement read, “but every person will leave the conference with something to think about.”
A spokesperson for the the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Christie has emerged as a vocal critic of Trump after the former president refused to concede his loss in 2020. Christie was among Trump’s closest allies — he led Trump’s 2016 presidential transition team and helped Trump prepare for the 2020 presidential debates against Joe Biden — but he broke with the former president after Trump began propagating baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Christie took direct aim at Trump when he launched his White House bid this month, and has since juxtaposed himself with other Republican candidates through his seemingly constant criticism of the former president.
“The person I am talking about who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, and will always find someone else — and something else — to blame for whatever goes wrong, but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right, is Donald Trump,” Christie said in his campaign launch.
But his candidacy has been met with limited fanfare in a Republican Party still moored to the former president, with surveys showing far more support for Trump, at about 52%, than Christie, at about 2 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls in recent weeks.
Michael Mitsanas is a politics reporting intern for NBC News.