The Republican presidential race is heating up as the January 15 Iowa Caucus approaches.

On Thursday, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign.

The move leaves three major players in the race for the Republican nomination. Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Although Christie is a self-professed “never-Trumper,” he did not offer an
endorsement to either of Trump’s two remaining rivals.

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He did quite the opposite in a highly critical assessment of Haley. During a hot-mic moment from a livestream posted by Christie’s campaign, he stated that Haley “is gonna get smoked.” Noting her campaign’s massive spending with only minimal returns in polling numbers, Christie added, “She’s not up to this.”

Both Trump and DeSantis jumped all over Christie’s comments. Trump, in his patented everyman syntax, called it “a very truthful statement.” DeSantis said, “I agree with Christie that Nikki Haley is ‘going to get smoked.’”

Christie also sounded a rallying cry to the rest of the Republican party to take a stronger stance against Trump, vowing to “in no way enable Trump to be president ever again.”

For her part, Haley took the high road and praised Christie for “a hard-fought campaign.” She added that Americans have a choice between the chaos of recent years and a new brand of conservative leadership. DeSantis acknowledged the former New Jersey Governor, stating that he “appreciated Christie’s role in the race.”

Despite Christie’s criticism of the Haley campaign, she has managed to trim Trump’s lead in the latest pre-caucus polling to single digits, according to a CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. Trump holds 39% of support from Republican voters, while Haley holds strong at 32%. DeSantis, the same poll shows, has slipped to a paltry 5% support.

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