- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2023

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says former President Donald Trump is the man to beat in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, but he thinks the ex-president has lost some of his luster and ability to draw big crowds.

Mr. Christie offered the appraisal after Mr. Trump spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, D.C., over the weekend. He said the room appeared to be half full.

“He’s essentially an incumbent president running for renomination — not reelection, but renomination. And so of course, he’s the front-runner right now and ahead in the polls. But there are lots of indicators here that he’s not what he used to be,” Mr. Christie said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. Christie ran for president in 2016 and endorsed Mr. Trump after dropping out of the Republican primary. He worked on Mr. Trump’s transition team but has been critical of Mr. Trump since then, piquing the ex-president’s ire.

Mr. Christie said Mr. Trump is obsessed with crowd size and suggested that is the reason, besides costs, that he is not holding many rallies right now.

“I don’t think the rallies would be nearly as big as they were before,” Mr. Christie said.

For his part, Mr. Trump said his speech at CPAC was an “amazing experience.”

“The place was packed with great American Patriots, and the spirt [sic], love, and enthusiasm was as high as it gets. These are people who do not like hearing that we are a Nation In Decline, they only want to Make America Great Again — And we will do just that!!!” he wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform.

Mr. Christie has said he thinks Mr. Trump would lose again to President Biden if the two square off in 2024.

Mr. Trump is leading in many polls of the GOP field, which includes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Observers are waiting for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch a bid because polls suggest he has the best chance to beat Mr. Trump in the primary.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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