Christie says Trump will be GOP nominee if former president wins New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie predicted Tuesday that former President Trump will win the GOP nomination for president if he wins the New Hampshire primary later this month.

Christie, speaking at a town hall event in the Granite State, added that the primary in South Carolina — the home stage of rival candidate Nikki Haley — in February will not be enough to stop Trump if he gets a victory in the New Hampshire.

“If he wins here, don’t expect South Carolina to save us, it’s not going to happen,” the former New Jersey governor told the crowd Tuesday. “So you all are the ones who are going to make the call here.”

Polling has recently shown a closer race for the state, which will host the first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 23. Trump is still in the lead, but Haley has appeared to be gaining on him in recent weeks.

Trump currently leads with 41.5 percent in The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s polling average of the state. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, places second with just more than 30 percent, followed by Christie with 11.5 percent.

Christie has received some pressure to drop out of the race from Republicans arguing that he does not have a path to the nomination and is only dividing the non-Trump vote, hurting candidates with a better chance at the nomination, like Haley.

But he has largely rejected those calls, saying those calling on him to drop out are “crazy” to think he would do so.

Christie expressed doubts at the town hall about Haley’s ability and interest in defeating Trump for the nomination.

He argued she is not actually running to beat Trump because she said in the past that she would pardon him if he’s convicted in any of his criminal trials. She also has not ruled out being the former president’s running mate, Christie added.

“Let’s say I dropped out of the race right now and I supported Nikki Haley. And then three months from now, four months from now, when you’re ready to go to the convention, she comes out as his vice president. What will I look like?” he said. “What will all the people who supported her at my behest look like?”

Christie said he will stay in the race while he sees a path to the nomination and not make an endorsement based on politics — as he did with endorsing Trump in 2016.

“I’m not going to make that same mistake again,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.