By Kit Maher, CNN
(CNN) — Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Sunday lamented what he called the teenage “food fight” between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis over LGBTQ rights in the 2024 GOP race, as rivals of the two front-runners seek to break out of the crowded race.
“It is a teenage, you know, food fight between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, and I don’t think that’s what leaders should be doing,” Christie told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“It certainly doesn’t make me feel inspired as an American, on the Fourth of July weekend, to have this type of back-and-forth going on at all, and it’s wrong to be doing it, and it’s narrowing our country, and making us smaller,” the former New Jersey governor said.
A campaign Twitter account for DeSantis’ 2024 presidential bid marked the end of Pride Month on Friday by sharing a video slamming Trump’s previous promise to protect LGBTQ rights.
The video paints the former president as sympathetic toward transgender rights and features a clip from his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican convention – just over a month after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando – in which he says, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung slammed the video, telling CNN that it showed “a desperate campaign in its last throes of relevancy.”
“I’m not comfortable with it,” Christie said Sunday of the video. “And I’m not comfortable with the way both Gov. DeSantis and Donald Trump are moving our debate in this country.”
“We have 21% of our students in the 10th grade saying that they’re using hard illegal drugs. And this is the kind of stuff that we’re talking about?” the former governor added.
Fellow Republican presidential hopeful Will Hurd echoed Christie’s message in a separate “State of the Union” interview later Sunday.
“I wish they would focus and focus their attacks on war criminals like Vladimir Putin, not my friends in the LGBTQ community,” the former Texas congressman said of Trump and DeSantis.
“It is 2023. We should be talking about, how do we embrace our differences? Because here’s what I have learned as I have crisscrossed the country. We’re better together.”
Throughout his recently launched campaign, Christie has sought to appeal to more traditionally conservative, establishment-friendly Republicans and etch out an identity separate from Trump and DeSantis.
“I want a country that is going to be bigger and going after the big issues that will make every American feel better about themselves, their families, and their country,” Christie said.
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