Mr Trump was at a rally in New Hampshire on Tuesday when he yet again made derogatory remarks about Mr Christie’s weight.
“Christie’s eating right now,” Mr Trump said to a cheering and laughing audience. He then pointed into the audience and said “Sir, please don’t call him a fat pig”.
“I’m trying to be nice, don’t call him a fat pig,” he added. “We want to be very civil, right?”
“If you had the guts you would show up to the debate and say it to my face,” Mr Christie tweeted on Tuesday night.
Mr Trump responded on Truth Social, writing: “I was extremely respectful of Sloppy Chris Christie today in New Hampshire. During a speech in front of a large crowd of Patriots, somebody shouted out that ‘Chris Christie is a fat pig.’ Rather than acknowledging that, which many speakers would have done, I said, ‘No, No, he is not a fat pig.’ I’m sure Chris would have been very happy with my defense of him!”
It’s unclear if anyone in the audience actually made any comments about Mr Christie.
Mr Trump has long leaned on jabs aimed at making fun of the former New Jersey governor’s weight in Truth Social postings and other comments about his once-ally.
The moment was a revealing preview of his debate strategy should he eventually end up onstage with Mr Christie and his other GOP rivals like his former vice president, Mike Pence, later this summer and into the fall.
The GOP debates are set to be the bloodiest televised fight for the former president in years, following a largely sleepy set of debates against now-President Joe Biden in 2020 and the tame performance, by comparison, of Hillary Clinton in 2016. There’s no indication that either Mr Trump or Mr Christie, who has made a name for himself in recent weeks with aggressive attacks of his own against his rival, will hold anything back should they come face-to-face in front of the cameras.
And there are other Republicans who will be on that debate stage who have likely learned the lessons of 2016 and 2020 and plan to take on Mr Trump in his own commandeering manner if only to avoid the fates of Jeb Bush and other Republicans who were bullied into submission by him in his first presidential run.
Several Republicans including most prominently Mr Christie have attacked Mr Trump over his leadership and electoral track record, blaming him for poor GOP performances in the House and Senate. Mr Christie has also taken a sharp edge against the former president’s campaign to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election, which has now resulted in four criminal charges against Mr Trump as well.
Mr Christie and to a lesser extent other Republicans like Asa Hutchinson have argued that Mr Trump’s growing legal baggage makes him an untenable candidate for the GOP to field against an incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden, in 2024.
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