Chris Christie’s attack on Trump draws boos at Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority event

Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, speaks at the Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2023.
Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, speaks at the Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2023. | The Christian Post/Nicole Alcindor

WASHINGTON — A Republican presidential candidate received boos from the audience at a gathering of politically engaged socially conservative Christians as he criticized former President Donald Trump. 

Faith leaders, conservative activists, Republican politicians and presidential candidates addressed thousands gathered at the annual Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference as it kicked off its first day of programming at the Washington Hilton Friday. While most of the Republican presidential candidates avoided mentioning the frontrunner for their party's nomination, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not demur. 

Christie, who has become an outspoken critic of Trump since he left office in early 2021, devoted much of his speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference to discussing the importance of character and how it relates to his faith. “My Catholic faith teaches us that character doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It doesn’t mean that you’re free of sin or faults,” he said. 

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“But what I believe my faith requires of me is when I do sin, when I do make mistakes, when people who work for me do the same, that I must admit it, that I must take responsibility. That part of getting forgiveness — whether it’s from God or whether it’s from the people who elected you — when you make mistakes, is you first accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness,” Christie added. He urged the crowd to be wary “of a leader who never makes mistakes,” adding: “Beware of a leader who has no faults.”

Christie warned the crowd about a “leader who says that when something goes wrong, it’s everybody else’s fault, and he goes and he blames those people for anything that goes wrong. But when things go right, everything is to his credit,” he added before recalling how he became the first former presidential candidate to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and continued to support him by leading his transition team and playing Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in debate prep.

The candidate pivoted to directly attacking the former president because of his concerns about his character: “He let us down. He has let us down because he’s unwilling to take responsibility for any of the mistakes that were made and for any of the faults that he has and any of the things that he has done, and that is not leadership.”

At this point, the crowd began to boo. Despite the cool reception his analysis received from the audience, Christie continued to outline reservations about Trump’s character in his remarks: “That is not leadership, everybody. That is a failure of leadership.”

Christie addressed the reaction from the audience, telling them to “Boo all you want,” insisting that “Our faith teaches us that people have to take responsibility for what they do.” This remark elicited applause from the audience. 

“People have to stand up and take accountability for what they do,” he added as applause continued. Lamenting that Trump has chosen to “call me names and belittle me,” criticizing his former ally, he cited a “great list of Americans” who have also drawn Trump's ire, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Secretaries of Defense Mark Esper and Jim Mattis as well as former White House Chiefs of Staff Mick Mulvaney and John Kelly.

As Christie listed the names of former Trump administration officials who've seen their relationship with the former commander-in-chief deteriorate after leaving office, members of the crowd chanted, “We love Trump!” To which Christie responded: “You can love him all you want. ...  I will tell you that doing those kind of things makes our country smaller.”

“It makes our country smaller, and it makes us lesser,” he exclaimed, as some in the crowd applauded and one person shouted, “Yes sir!” in agreement. He concluded his speech by urging the audience to “put character first” and vowed to do just that if elected president.

“I love each and every one of you for what you contribute to your country,” Christie declared. “I love that you are people of faith, I am too, and let’s make America a country that cares once again about character and faith.” 

While most of the speeches elicited applause at various times, including speeches given by candidates competing against Trump for the Republican nomination, Christie’s speech was the only address where the audience reacted negatively on at least one occasion. At the beginning of the conference, Faith & Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed encouraged the audience not to boo speakers even if they disagreed with them. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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