Trump critic Christie drops out of the Republican presidential race

A few days before the start of the US Republican presidential primaries, candidate Chris Christie has thrown in the towel. The former governor of the state of New Jersey and sharp critic of former President Donald Trump told supporters in the state of New Hampshire on Wednesday that he had realized that he had no chance of winning his party’s nomination for the presidential election in November. That’s why he’s dropping out of the race for the White House.

At the same time, the 61-year-old warned Republicans not to vote for the highly favored right-wing populist Trump in the primaries: The ex-president is dividing the country, “stirring up anger for his own benefit” and putting his interests above those of the country’s people.

Christie was Trump’s harshest critic in the Republican field of candidates – and had made verbal attacks against the ex-president his political trademark. In surveys, however, it only averaged between three and four percent. His withdrawal from the presidential race is likely to help former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is vying with Florida’s arch-conservative Governor Ron DeSantis for second place behind Trump.

The Republican primaries begin next Monday in the state of Iowa and will last several months. The winner of the primary will challenge incumbent Joe Biden of the Democratic Party in the presidential election on November 5th.

Trump is the clear favorite in the Republican primaries despite his numerous judicial problems. Polls put him well ahead of his internal party rivals with more than 60 percent nationwide.

However, there are reservations in the party establishment about the 77-year-old right-wing populist. There are fears that the most controversial US president in recent decades could lose the election in November to Biden – just like the 2020 election.

The two most promising Trump challengers, Haley and DeSantis, competed against each other in a televised debate in Iowa on Wednesday evening. As with previous events, Trump stayed away from the debate and instead took part in a town hall event hosted by the conservative news channel Fox News.

According to the average determined by the website “RealClearPolitics”, the ex-president (2017 to 2021) has 52.3 percent in polls for the primary election in Iowa, while Haley and DeSantis each have around 16 percent. The 51-year-old Haley presents herself as a moderate alternative to Trump and the right-wing hardliner DeSantis.

The former governor of South Carolina is hoping for a strong result in Iowa and significant momentum for her campaign in the second primary on January 23 in the east coast state of New Hampshire. In contrast to Iowa, non-party voters are also allowed to take part in the Republican vote.

DeSantis, in turn, is trying to profile himself as a younger alternative to Trump, from whom he does not differ much in terms of political positions. The 45-year-old governor takes a line on migration policy that is just as hard as Trump.