Less than 24 hours after voters learned former President Donald Trump would face seven criminal indictments over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, a pro-Christie Super PAC dropped its first TV ad in New Hampshire.
Entitled “Qualified,” the first sentence lays out Christie’s position on the former president.
“It’s time for us to stop believing Donald Trump is qualified to be president of the United States,” Christie says in the TV spot, filmed entirely at his town hall announcement at St. Anselm College. According to Colin Reed, senior adviser for Tell It Like It Is PAC, the ad will hit broadcast and cable in New Hampshire beginning on Sunday.
“The latest round of indictments serve as another reminder that the Republican Party needs a new direction,” Reed said. “To turn the page on the Biden presidency, the GOP needs a qualified leader. Gov. Christie is ready to serve the American people on day one, and Tell It Like It Is will be making that case directly to voters.”
Trump and his attorney Jim Trusty say Trump is facing seven counts, including violating the Espionage Act. According to multiple media reports, the former president is expected to appear in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday. Trump released a statement on Truth Social declaring his innocence.
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” he wrote. “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” (Emphasis original.)
Many of Trump’s challengers in the 2024 GOP presidential primary spoke out to either defend Trump or condemn the prosecution as unfair.
“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a tweet. “Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter (Biden)?”
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy went so far as to pledge to pardon Trump if he is elected president.
“It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics. I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025, and to restore the rule of law in our country,” he said.
Christie has taken a different tack, telling New Hampshire radio host Jack Heath Friday morning voters should wait to see the evidence and indictments before rushing to Trump’s defense.
“Whatever is going to come out on Tuesday regarding Donald Trump should be judged on the merits of what happened with Donald, what he’s done, what his conduct is,” Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, said. “And that’s why, unlike some of the other candidates in this race who have jumped in to say how unfair this is, I’m not going to say anything until I actually see what facts and evidence they have and what they’re charging him with.
“Facts do matter, and the truth does matter,” Christie said.
Asked about the perception that Trump has been hounded by a federal justice system that protected Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden in the past, Christie said he believed the Department of Justice was wrong not to charge Clinton over her secret server and email issues. But he also defended the Delaware U.S. Attorney overseeing the Hunter Biden case, noting, “He’s a Republican appointed by Donald Trump.
“He’s the only U.S. Attorney in the country who has not been relieved of his duties from the Trump administration. And he wasn’t relieved of his duties, rightfully, because he’s in the middle of an investigation of the president’s son.”
Polls show Trump’s support among likely GOP primary voters rose in the wake of his indictment by progressive Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on charges related to the handling of business records. Many pundits believe he will receive a similar surge in support in the wake of these new indictments.
But Reed believes that, over time, Granite Staters will get past the immediate reaction and take a big-picture view of the choice they have to make in the First in the Nation primary.
“New Hampshire voters have always shown an independent streak, and we’re confident Gov. Christie’s message of standing up for what is right will resonate,” Reed said.