Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie says his friend Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor, has a “very bright” future in national politics but is not joining the effort by some centrist Republicans to draft Hogan to challenge President Trump in a 2020 GOP primary.
Christie offered his thoughts Thursday during an early-evening appearance with Hogan at Government House, the governor’s official residence. Christie was in Annapolis as part of a tour to promote a book about his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination in 2016 and his subsequent stint with the Trump campaign. From the mansion, the men headed to the Annapolis Yacht Club, where Hogan introduced Christie at an event that included a discussion and book signing.
Christie said he sees no current path for a successful primary challenge, noting Trump’s strong support among Republican voters. Hogan has repeatedly said the same. But Christie and Hogan, Republicans who won reelection in blue states, said the political landscape could change quickly.
“Leadership is about being practical but also being nimble,” Christie said.
Christie, a longtime friend to Trump who was pushed out as chair of his transition team, said he still speaks with the president regularly and supports many of his policies.
But Christie nonetheless heaped praise on Trump’s possible rival, saying it was “love at first sight” in 2014 when he met Hogan, then a businessman running an underdog campaign for governor. Christie described Hogan as a practical leader who is capable of bringing people together.
“He’s a uniter,” Christie said.
Christie and Hogan, who have what Hogan describes as a “bromance,” joked Thursday about their different relationships with the president, whom Hogan has sharply criticized.
“I don’t talk to him quite as often as he does,” Hogan said, referring to Trump. “But I think he knows where I stand on issues.”
“I think he does,” Christie said with a laugh.
“I remember the president calling [Christie] and saying, ‘What’s up with your boy Hogan?’ ” Hogan said.
Hogan, who said he would not have been elected in 2014 without Christie’s support and advice, said he will again seek Christie’s advice on any potential next moves. He said again Thursday that a primary challenge does not currently “make any sense at all.”
“But we just don’t know what the future holds,” he added.
Christie said he does not anticipate serving as a surrogate for Trump in the 2020 race because he is now a paid consultant for ABC News.
“I have a different set of responsibilities now,” Christie said, adding that he thinks surrogates will play a less important role for Trump than they did in 2016 because the president will be running on his record.
Christie’s sharpest criticism of the president came during the book discussion at the Annapolis Yacht Club, when he rebuked Trump as having lied about whether he was involved in the granting of security clearances to his daughter and son-in-law.
“You’ve got to tell the truth,” Christie said, adding that it is hard to defend Trump when he lies.
Christie said he thinks that Trump is a “unique figure who will not and cannot be repeated.”
“I don’t believe that Trumpism, if you want to call it that, will last beyond Donald Trump,” he said, predicting that the Republican Party of the future will be “conventional, right of center.”