Christie launches new 'Truth' ad seemingly intended to draw contrast with Haley

The ad targets independent voters in New Hampshire and will air on TV this week.

January 7, 2024, 7:00 AM

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched a new advertisement on Sunday to target independent voters in New Hampshire, seemingly intended to contrast himself with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley without using her name, as he aims to outperform her in the first-in-the-nation primary.

The 30-second spot, titled "The Truth" -- shared first to ABC News -- features Christie assuring voters directly to camera that he'll tell them the truth, even when met with criticism, as opposed to tailoring his message to what he thinks a crowd wants.

"Most of the other candidates in this race are all trying to look into people's eyes and figure out what they want to hear. I'm looking into people's eyes and knowing that the truth is ultimately what they need to hear and what they deserve to hear," Christie says, taking on a calm and conversational tone from his New Jersey home.

"Even at times when you get booed for doing that, or when you get chastised for doing it, the truth is the one non-negotiable commodity," he adds. "We've got to stick with it."

The ad is part of both a previously announced seven-figure buy and within a series intended to target independent voters with blunt, direct-to-camera messages and will air this week on TV and digital platforms in New Hampshire, where Christie's campaign has staked on a strong showing.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks directly to camera in a new advertisement to air on television and digital platforms intended to target independent voters in New Hampshire.
Courtesy of Chris Christie for President

"Christie has always been willing to tell the truth regardless of what people may think," a spokesperson with details of the ad told ABC News. "This is a stark contrast from Haley who today refused to tell voters the truth about Trump."

The messaging comes after a voter interrupted Haley on Saturday as she was wrapping a town hall in Indianola, Iowa, to express disappointment that she hasn't taken on former President Donald Trump more directly.

"[Trump] He is more than chaos," said the woman, who also told Haley she plans to caucus for her. "I feel like that's the worst you say about him, and I wish it could be more, for us... Let's make him accountable."

"Let me say this. Pro-Trumpers don't think I love him enough, anti-Trumpers don't think I hate him enough," Haley replied, at first, offering her typical response to similar questions. "But for those that want me to hit Trump more, I just am not going to do it. I told you that I'm not going to do it."

"If he lies about me, I'll call him out on it. If he's done something wrong, whether it's the economy or how he talks about dictators, and those things, I'll call him out on every one of those issues," she added. "But I just think politics is personal enough, and I think let's focus on the issues and getting America back on track."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, too, was pointedly questioned by another Iowa voter in Waukee this week on why he hasn't "gone directly" after Trump. The Florida governor argued he's "articulated all the differences time and time again on the campaign trail” and again called on Trump to debate.

Christie has described Haley as someone "blatantly pandering" for votes, blasting her this week for telling a New Hampshire audience, "Iowa starts it," and "You correct it," which she later said was spoken in jest.

The Haley campaign declined to comment on Christie's criticism to ABC News.

Sharpening attacks on Haley as she rises in polls

In his campaign's first television ad released in December, Christie argues he's the only candidate that can beat Trump because he's the only one directly taking him on, criticizing Haley and DeSantis for not doing the same.

The former New Jersey governor has gone after Haley, in particular, for so far refusing to directly rule out she'd run as Trump's vice president, something DeSantis has done, "To his credit," Christie said.

Haley told NBC News on Friday, "The reason I don't answer that question is I don't play my opponents' games."

PHOTO: Fourth Republican Presidential Debate Held In Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - DECEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidates former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L) and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley talk during a commercial break in the NewsNation Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall on December 6, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The four presidential hopefuls squared off during the fourth Republican primary debate without current frontrunner and former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has declined to participate in any of the previous debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"She doesn't want to offend because she's been taught that the best way to operate in this business is not to tell you the truth. Just to try to fool you," Christie told voters at a town hall in Hollis this week. "There's one person in this race who's telling you the truth. That's the reason I got in the race."

But some Republicans, and even some New Hampshire voters, have suggested Christie drop out to consolidate the field against the former president, arguing that Christie's supporters could go over to Haley to overtake Trump.

Haley is polling second in New Hampshire, 29% to Trump's 42%, according to FiveThirtyEight, while Christie is averaging around 11%.

New Hampshire voter Camron Barth posed the conundrum directly to Christie on Friday in Keene.

"What I'm worried about is that Trump will win the New Hampshire primary. And what gives me a great deal of anxiety is that you and Gov. Haley appeal to the same people," he said. "So my question to you is, do you think that my anxiety about that is unfounded?"

"No, I have the same anxiety," Christie replied with a light laugh at the town hall setting. "Look, Nikki and I do appeal to some of the same people. But there are a lot of people who support me who wouldn't support her because she is not speaking out against Donald Trump."

PHOTO: GOP Presidential Candidate Chris Christie Hosts Town Hall In Bedford, New Hampshire
BEDFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE - DECEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a "Tell It Like It Is" town hall at the Bedford Event Center on December 19, 2023 in Bedford, New Hampshire. Republican presidential candidate Christie is continuing his "Tell It Like It Is" town hall series across New Hampshire. (Photo by Sophie Park/Getty Images)
Sophie Park/Getty Images

"If I ever did get out of this race, whether it's before New Hampshire, after South Carolina, after Michigan, whenever it could be – whenever I came to the conclusion if I didn't see a path to me winning, she has to earn my support," he added. "Not just because she's the only one left standing against Donald Trump."

Greg Allen, a Christie supporter, shared the sentiment a day earlier at the Hollis town hall.

"Christie's appeal is more to 'Never Trumpers,'" Allen told ABC News. "I think Nikki draws from people who would slip back into Trump's camp… so if Christie was to just drop out at this point, I think voters simply wouldn't show up."

While other Republican candidates descend on Iowa with the caucuses eight days away, Christie has skipped the Hawkeye State altogether. He told reporters after a town hall on Thursday that he needs to finish in second or a "very, very close third" in New Hampshire State to stay in the race for the Republican nomination.

ABC News' Kelsey Walsh, Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Nicholas Kerr and Abby Cruz contributed to this report.