Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is playing coy on whether he'll throw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination for 2024, indicating he might simply influence the conversation from afar. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer, Christie outlines the stark reality he sees about the GOP primary as things begin to heat up on the campaign trail. "I think there's one lane for the nomination, and right now, Donald Trump's in the front of that lane," Christie tells Bremmer. "And if you want to get in the front of that lane, you better intervene and go right through him because otherwise trying to go around him, I don't think it's a strategy."
On the debt celing, he's confident that Republicans and Democrats will avert disaster; on Ron DeSantis, he thinks the Florida Governor has made his Disney-doomed bed and has to sleep in it. He also shares his views on culture war issues, foreign policy, and Russia/Ukraine, where the former Governor's insistence on continued support for Ukraine is decidedly clearer than Trump's.
The Republican Party is in the midst of an identity crisis. Between the far-right MAGA supporters and more traditional “Never Trump” conservatives, there doesn’t seem to be a coherent through-line for GOP priorities ahead of the 2024 race for US president.
On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer asked rumored 2024 GOP candidate and former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, what the Republicans’ policy priorities should be as we look ahead to the election. Along with fixing America’s immigration system and shoring up its alliances around the world, Christie argues that Republicans need to become the “fiscally responsible party” once again.
An issue that has received too much attention, Christie says, is the ongoing culture war within the GOP against things like transgender rights and library books, as exemplified by Governor Ron DeSantis’ battle with Disney World over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. While Christie argues some of those things should be discussed in the context of larger issues, like parental choice in education, he believes using the powers of government to police speech you disagree with is a fundamentally “anti-conservative” position.
“[DeSantis] should have just let it go. But instead he is going to continue to push it and up the ante,” Christie told Ian Bremmer, “I think it’s anti-conservative. I think it’s a mistake.”
Listen:The upcoming GOP presidential primary will be many things – expensive, long, chaotic – but one thing we know for sure is that it won't be pretty. And one potential Trump rival, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is ready to embrace the ugly. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast, Christie outlines the stark reality he sees as things begin to heat up on the campaign trail. "I think there's one lane for the nomination, and right now, Donald Trump's in the front of that lane," Christie tells Bremmer. "And if you want to get in the front of that lane, you better intervene and go right through him because otherwise, trying to go around him, I don't think it's a strategy."
While Christie is still playing coy on whether he'll throw his hat in the ring or simply influence the conversation from afar, he spoke with clarity and confidence on a wide variety of issues. On the debt ceiling, he's confident that Republicans and Democrats will avert disaster; on DeSantis, he thinks the Florida governor has made his Disney-doomed bed and has to sleep in it. On the culture war issues...well, you'll just have to listen to the show. They also talk foreign policy and specifically Russia/Ukraine, where the former Governor's insistence on continued support for Ukraine is decidedly starker than what President Trump said on CNN last week.
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1: For the first time, a South Korean court recognized the rights of a gay couple after the Health Insurance Service denied the two men spousal coverage. A lower court originally ruled against the couple, but an appellate judge determined that denying the couple coverage was discriminatory despite the fact that South Korea does not recognize same-sex marriage. The case could now be heard by the Supreme Court.
44: The death toll from devastating floods in southeastern Brazil rose to 44 on Wednesday after President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva visited the state of São Paulo. Shoddy infrastructure in Brazil makes homes particularly vulnerable to severe flooding and landslides. Search and rescue efforts continue as dozens remain missing.
33: Botswana says it has seen a surge in poaching in recent years, with one third – 33% – of the endangered species having been wiped out over the past five years alone. Authorities attribute this to a demand for rhino horns in East Africa and say there are fewer than 400 of the animals left in the country.
37: India’s meteorologists issued their first heat warning of the season in recent days as parts of western India are set to reach 37 degrees celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit). Many Indians are extremely anxious after last spring's wet bulb weather brought one of the country’s worst heat waves in over a century and led to scores of deaths.
59: Is children’s author Roald Dahl the latest victim of the culture wars? Puffin, the publishing house with rights to Dahl’s classics, is making a slew of alterations to his books, with journalists finding 59 changes to “The Witches” alone. Oompa-Loompas, the beloved characters from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," will now be dubbed "small people,” not "small men.” Dare we ask: What do you think of the move? Please drop us a note with your thoughts.
Over the last decade, we’ve gotten used to seeing some of the world’s largest companies weighing in on hot-button social and political issues.
Following George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, large numbers of big multinationals expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Nike drew ire from conservatives who demanded Colin Kaepernick be blacklisted over his protest of racial injustice. Last April, Republicans vowed retribution against Major League Baseball over its decision to move its All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver in protest of Georgia’s restrictive new voting law. And in the summer, Heineken sparked a boycott when it came out in favor of the highly controversial *checks notes* Covid vaccines.
Most recently, you’ll remember how in the aftermath of Jan. 6, many major corporations and industry groups issued statements condemning the insurrection and pledging to suspend donations to the “Sedition Caucus,” the 147 Republican members of Congress who had voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The initial reaction to Jan. 6—which featured brands like AXE, the deodorant maker, voicing support for the peaceful transition of power—is a bellwether of a much bigger trend in American life: extreme polarization making it harder and harder for companies to keep politics out of business.
As Red vs. Blue divisions have grown to become a matter not just of disagreement but of personal enmity, it’s gotten much more difficult for corporates to steer clear of the nation’s culture wars. Why? Because Americans are demanding that the companies they buy from and work for take a strong stance—the “correct” stance—on social and political issues they care about.
Part of this phenomenon is a natural outgrowth of our country’s growing polarization, which has spilled out the realm of electoral politics and infected all aspects of everyday life. Yet some of it is also due to a generational shift. Millennials and Gen Zers pose a triple threat to brands: many are woke, expect corporates to align with them on values, and know how to leverage their voices and their pocketbooks to punish them when they don’t. They are able to get away with it in large part thanks to the amplifying power of social media and, in recent times, to their newfound bargaining power brought about by the Great Resignation.
For most companies, taking sides in political debates is risky, a double-edged sword. Because our country is so divided on everything, speaking up often means alienating a non-negligible proportion of your consumers, employees, and investors. Americans of both parties (that’s right, it’s not just woke lefties) are eager to cancel brands they disagree with on issues that have nothing to do with the goods and services these companies provide. According to a recent study, 64% of consumers will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue.
Damned if they do, damned if they don'tSproutSocial, 5WPR, CNVC/SurveyMonkey, Gartner, Glassdoor/Harris
But not taking sides is often riskier, because neutrality is viewed as complicity. If a company takes a stand against abortion bans, it’ll face fury from conservatives. If it comes out in favor of abortion bans, it’ll invite backlash from liberals and progressives. But if it doesn’t take a stand at all, it could take flak from everyone. The blowback can be severe even for companies that put forth certain stances but fail to back them up with credible action (aka virtue signaling).
The upshot? Politics has become so toxic and so insidious that no matter how brands position themselves on a given issue, they are angering a big chunk of their consumers and employees.
This year features a particularly mined calendar, full of ready-made flashpoints like the Beijing Winter Olympics and the US midterm elections. The abortion law in Texas, the voting law in Georgia, the bathroom bill in North Carolina, the transgender law in Arkansas—these are issues where Americans will be looking at corporates and asking where they stand.
Off-cycle elections in the United States usually don’t matter much for policy, but voters are heading to the polls today in several races that will serve as useful barometers of the country’s political mood.
What makes today's elections interesting is what they could tell us about the political realignment happening within both parties in the run-up to the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election.
Republicans are trying to figure out what kind of party the GOP is going to be when Donald Trump isn’t (yet) running, while Democrats are fighting the perception that they have become too aligned with the far left.
Virginia election a referendum on Trump, culture wars
The highest profile race is happening in Virginia, where former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe is facing off for governor against first-time candidate and Mitt Romney Republican Glenn Youngkin, a multi-millionaire former private equity executive and religious conservative.
Sensing an opportunity to claim credit for a victory, former President Donald Trump waded into the race to campaign for the GOP candidate, whom he endorsed after winning the party’s nomination.
"We get along very well together and strongly believe in many of the same policies," Trump said in a statement on Monday. He encouraged his supporters to “flood the system and get out and vote” for the Republican candidate.
For months, Democrats have sought to play up Youngkin’s closeness with Trump, who lost the state by 10 points a year ago, in order to paint him as an extremist and turn off suburban voters.
"Since launching his campaign, Glenn Youngkin has made it clear he is running for governor for one person and one person only: Donald Trump. Now, with less than 24 hours until Election Day, Trump is helping Glenn close his campaign and rewarding his total allegiance for the last eight months," McAuliffe said in a press release on Monday, urging Virginia voters to “come together to REJECT Trump and send a powerful message to the nation: we are not going back.”
Education has emerged as a major theme for Republicans in the race, hoping to harness the energy of parents in the DC exurbs who have started to organize against local school boards for their Covid mask mandates and alleged teaching of "critical race theory", the right's latest obsession. Youngkin has heavily criticized McAuliffe’s remarks at a September debate, when he said: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
“We will not teach our children to view everything through the lens of race,” Youngkin vowed at a rally on Monday. “So on Day 1, I will ban critical race theory from Virginia’s schools.”
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) (left) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (right) debate on September 28, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republicans see these culture war battles as an opportunity to make up for losses in the suburbs that were incurred during the Trump administration and cost the GOP their House majority in 2018. While the McAuliffe campaign has treated these efforts as scaremongering, it is certainly taking the challenge seriously. The former governor has summoned all the major national Democrats—including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama—in the home stretch of a race that polls say he could lose.
The school board issue has become a flashpoint around the country, as multiple school board elections have turned unusually partisan. Races will be proving grounds in a culture war battle between Republican-backed parents who argue that local schools are indoctrinating kids and Democratic-aligned school board members who see education about racism as an indispensable part of American history. Covid mask mandates are also an emerging theme in these races, which are normally not as divisive.
School mask mandates have become a flash point of partisan culture wars. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NY, MN, NJ races test Dem unity, 2022 prospects
Several big-city mayoral elections are worth watching for what they say about inter-Democratic politics.
Normally, mayoral elections are strictly local affairs, but today a former police officer, Eric Adams, is likely to be elected in New York City, while both Democrats and Republicans in Buffalo are backing incumbent Democratic mayor Byron Brown as a write-in candidate to stop India Walton, a self-proclaimed socialist who defeated Brown in a low-turnout primary earlier in the year, from leading New York’s largest city.
Demonstrators march to defund the Minneapolis Police Department following the murder of George Floyd.(Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)
New Jersey is also having a gubernatorial election today, but the state is so Democratic that even a moderate Republican candidate like former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is unlikely to come close to challenging incumbent Democratic governor Phil Murphy. If he does, that would be a shocker of an upset win and a very bad sign both for President Biden’s fiscal agenda and the outlook for Democrats in Congress next year.