Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shut down on Sunday the possibility of running against newly-indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) for his seat in Congress.
Speaking to Kristen Welker on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Republican presidential candidate said he had “no interest” in being a United States senator if he ends up losing the party’s primary race.
When Welker followed up by asking if Christie would “rule it out completely,” the former governor maintained his stance.
“Yes, I have. I have throughout my entire career,” he said. “I had a chance to appoint myself to the United States Senate, Kristen, in 2013 when Frank Lautenberg passed away and I was governor.”
“If I didn’t appoint myself to the United States Senate, the easiest way to get there, I sure as heck am not going to run for it.”
WATCH: Fmr. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie rules out a run for Senate if Sen. Menendez (D) runs for re-election.@GovChristie: “I had a chance to appoint myself to the U.S. Senate … If I didn’t appoint myself, the easiest way to get there, I sure as heck am not going to run for it.” pic.twitter.com/wsHC0bMvmp
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 24, 2023
Christie’s remarks come just days after federal prosecutors indicted Menendez on corruption charges, accusing the Senate Foreign Relations chair and his wife of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for favors he administered using the power of his office.
In addition to the half a million dollars in cash found at the Menendez home, investigators said they also found over $100,000 worth of gold bars allegedly given to the senator and his wife by their New Jersey business partners. One of those partners was an Egyptian American accused of giving sensitive information from Menendez to the Egyptian government.
An increasing number of lawmakers, including Democrats, are calling for Menendez to resign from the Senate. Menendez has denied the allegations, suggesting that the indictment is part of a conspiracy to oust him, a first-generation Latino American, from his Senate seat. The Democrat plans to step down from his leadership position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has maintained that he will not resign from his position as senator.
Christie, meanwhile, continues to trail significantly behind former President Donald Trump, who despite facing multiple indictments is leading the GOP primary by more than 40 points, according to a new NBC poll. In that poll, Trump is the first-choice pick of 59% of national Republican primary voters, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Finding himself behind Trump by 55 points, according to the national poll, Christie stressed that he is closer to the former president when looking at individual states.
“This whole race is gonna change once people actually vote, Kristen,” he said. “If it’s a national poll, [and] if we don’t have a national primary, I don’t spend more than three minutes thinking about it.