Chris Christie recalls 2016 warning DeSantis against using “canned” debate lines


Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hinted at consequences for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) if he decides to follow advice outlined in a leaked strategy memo sent to him, which was released this week to the delight of DeSantis’ critics.

“I don’t know. A ready-made slogan used against me by a Florida politician on a debate stage? What could go wrong?” Christie joked at an event in Atlanta on Saturday: according to Semafor reporter Dave Weigel and the Florida Politics blog.

It referenced the moment Christie knocked out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) onstage by calling out his “memory” answers during a primary election debate seven and a half years ago.

Christie chided Rubio for his lack of practical experience after the Florida senator criticized him and then-President Barack Obama before praising “the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

‚ÄúThat’s what Washington, DC is doing. “The shot that went by at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that was exactly what his advisers gave him,” Christie said at the debate in February 2016, drawing cheers.

He added, “The memorized 30-second speech that ends up talking about how great America is doesn’t solve a problem for one person.”

Christie later emphasized his point, too, when Rubio said, “Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“There it is,” Christie interjected, to applause. “There it is, the memorized 25-second speech.” (Check out the clip below.)

DeSantis’ strategy memo, first reported by the New York Times, instructed the often stiff and dispassionate governor to perform four duties in the debate, the fourth being to “defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to an attack by Chris Christie.” It was created by Axiom Strategies, a company owned by Republican strategist Jeff Roe.

While Trump has been adamant in his attacks on DeSantis, the governor has been generally reserved in his responses so as not to anger Trump’s eager base.

If he’s trying to defend Trump, DeSantis should just “get the fuck out of this race,” Christie said Friday. according to the New York Times.

“If you’re running for President of the United States, are you really letting another group of people tell you what to say?” Christie said of DeSantis, according to the Times. “This campaign of his has lasted from up here down because people are really wondering what the heck he stands for.”

The first Republican primary debate of 2024 is scheduled for Aug. 25 in Milwaukee, though the nominee lineup is undecided is still set. Trump is not expected to attend.

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