WASHINGTON − With about six weeks to go until the Republican primary season kicks off, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is warning of a GOP "death sentence" if former President Donald Trump becomes the party's nominee in 2024.
Christie has built a campaign on attacking Trump and calling on fellow GOP candidates to do the same.
During an interview Thursday night, NewsNation host Chris Cuomo asked Christie whether it would be a “death sentence” in the primary to criticize Trump, who has strong support from the Republican base.
“No, the death sentence is to let Trump be our nominee," Christie said.
“If Trump is our nominee, we will not only lose the presidency again, but we will lose both houses of Congress, and we will lose races up and down the ticket,” Christie added. “And this isn’t speculation.”
Christie called Trump “political poison” up and down the ballot and questioned how other candidates, like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, can take on the indicted ex-president later if they aren't doing it now.
“If you are unwilling to take him on now, if you eventually get on the stage with him, how are you willing to take him on or able to take him on with any credibility when you’ve said things, you know, ‘For some reason, chaos and drama follow him wherever he goes.’”
Christie was referring to Haley’s comments in a Fox News interview last month when she said, “The problem is drama and chaos follows him, whether fairly or not. It is constantly following him and Americans feel it.”
When asked whether Haley was a legitimate prospect for president, Christie said she was but that she was vying for second place.
“When you’re unwilling to stand up and talk about the guy who is the frontrunner in the race by 20 to 30 points, depending on what poll you look at, Chris, you’re not trying to win,” Christie said. “You’re trying to come in second. I’m running to win and I think our party needs Donald Trump to lose for us to have a future in the 2024 race.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Christie slams Trump as a 'death sentence' for the GOP in 2024