Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speculated that former President Donald Trump could make a last-minute decision to sign the Republican National Committee’s debate pledge in the days leading up to the first Republican presidential debate.
“[Trump] plays misdirection all the time,” Christie, who is running for president in the 2024 election, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I would not be the least bit surprised if some time around Sunday or Monday of next week, that he signs the pledge, and he shows up on the stage on Wednesday.”
The RNC released requirements in June that Republican candidates must fulfill in order to take part in primary debates, including reaching 1% in three national polls, amassing 40,000 unique donors to their campaign committee, and signing a pledge agreeing to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate the first Republican primary debate on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. Trump has said he was unsure if he would take part in the debate. Various polls show Trump is the overwhelming front-runner as voters head into election season.
“Let them debate so I can see who I MIGHT consider for Vice President!” Trump posted on his Truth Social account late last month, implying that he might skip the event.
Christie argued that the former president enjoys keeping the attention on himself, and a last-minute debate agreement would make headlines.
“He might not also, but I would not be the least bit surprised if he did. This is about Donald Trump keeping the attention on Donald Trump. And he’s doing pretty well because in the first question this morning, we’re talking about him and that’s what he likes,” Christie told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.
Trump has said he refuses to sign the GOP loyalty pledge, which has raised doubts that he would be allowed to join fellow Republicans running to secure the White House in 2024. Christie speculated that the RNC would refuse to allow Trump on debate stages without signing the pledge.
“I think that they are serious about wanting this pledge signed. And I do think that they’d keep Donald Trump off the stage if he chose not to sign the pledge…. He did the same thing in 2016, in terms of not wanting to sign the pledge and waiting until the very last minute to do it. We don’t know how much he would have respected the pledge, even after having signed it. So, look I think this is all kind of nonsensical theater,” Christie said.
The former New Jersey governor has previously criticized the pledge, calling it “just a useless idea.”