Chris Christie may have won a battle against Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, but he ended up losing the war. Despite having rattled Rubio enough during the debate to reverse his Iowa momentum, Christie wound up trailing Rubio by three points and finishing well out of the delegate hunt. With his Granite State strategy in shreds and his inability to qualify for the next Republican debate, Christie went home to New Jersey last night instead of making his promised visit to South Carolina:
Christie told supporters Tuesday evening that he is heading back to New Jersey Wednesday — and not going to South Carolina — so he can take stock of his Republican presidential bid.
“We decided that we’re going to go home to New Jersey tomorrow and we’re going to take a deep breath,” he said.
Christie had a somber tone during his speech, as he said he wants to reassess everything after the final tally from the primary comes in. He is projected to finish sixth.
CNN reports this morning that Christie’s discussing exit strategies with his campaign advisers:
Two sources close to Chris Christie says he is huddling with his top campaign aides today and all indications are that they expect him to formally suspend his campaign and end his bid for the Republican nomination. Details are still begin worked out.
One source noted that the New Jersey governor is a “political realist” and understood that not qualifying to appear in Saturday’s debate and the lack of money made it impossible to go forward.
Rubio’s polling definitely took a hit from his exchange with Christie on Saturday night. Why didn’t Christie’s rise from it? Fox’s Brit Hume probably said it best during last night’s coverage. “Voters already have a bully-boy in Donald Trump,” and didn’t need two.
ABC hears the same thing:
— ABC News (@ABC) February 10, 2016
There does not appear to be much reason to persevere. Christie’s doing poorly in South Carolina polling, and he bet most of his campaign on New Hampshire. Instead of getting the so-called “establishment lane” to himself, John Kasich and Jeb Bush beat him instead. He may have helped propel Kasich to a better result with his attack on Rubio, but Christie didn’t even succeed to the extent of knocking him out of the race.
With Christie out, the remaining governors could hope to consolidate that so-called establishment lane, but … there doesn’t appear to be much appetite among voters for that option. In Christie’s case, there simply isn’t that much to split.
Asked whether he would seek Christie’s endorsement if the New Jersey governor drops out of the race, Trump praised Christie for his performance at last week’s GOP primary debate.
“I think that Chris did an amazing job in terms of the debate, as a prosecutor, and he’s a friend of mine,” Trump said early Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“And he actually called me last night, and we had a long talk, and he’s a little disappointed because he really did do a great job, he did an amazing job during that debate,” he added.
If Christie follows up his attack on Rubio with an endorsement of Trump, he’ll have to become a contortionist to explain it.
Update: Fox reports that the decision has been made:
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) February 10, 2016