Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seriously considering running for president in 2024, three people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.
Driving the news: While Christie isn't saying anything publicly about his thinking — besides telling radio host Hugh Hewitt he's not ruling it out — people close to him have an early sense of the rationale and outlines of a potential candidacy.
The big picture: Absent another run by former President Trump, the field would be wide open.
- Christie, whose 2016 bid for the nomination was short-lived, has told friends that he'd be the only person in the 2024 field with executive experience who has run a presidential race before.
- That's a clear shot at one potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's enjoying a surge of popularity from Republican voters for his handling of COVID-19 and his sparring with the media but hasn't yet endured the scrutiny of a presidential bid.
- Christie could run on a reputation for toughness that appeals to Trump's base minus the former president's recklessness, said one source. Another said he has a mix of combativeness and charisma that Republicans are looking for to take on President Biden and Democrats.
- He has potential crossover appeal to blue-collar and suburban right-of-center voters.
- And his experience as a former federal prosecutor could help distinguish him in debates and prepare for a primary contest in which there may be less of a premium on ad-libbing than in 2016.
Between the lines: Christie has a steep hill to climb if he does decide to run. In 2016, his candidacy got a walloping by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as well as the unexpected, once-in-a-generation political phenomenon that was Trump.
- Now that Christie is out of any elected office, his statements don't carry the newsworthiness of a sitting governor's or a senator's.
- But from his perch as an ABC contributor, Christie has been making statements designed to get headlines and position himself as a top Republican attack dog against the President Biden. On a recent "This Week" appearance, Christie accused Biden of "lying" in his descriptions of infrastructure.
The bottom line: Christie has told associates that Trump's decision about running again in 2024 won't affect his own decision-making.