Why are Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy still in 2024 GOP race? They need to skedaddle.

I don’t want to be the buzzkill for anyone’s delusions of grandeur, but sometimes it’s important to face reality.

And the reality is that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy had no business being on stage Wednesday night at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate. The same is true for the race in general.

They should join the ranks of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (I had forgotten about him, too), South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence and call it quits.

Why? Because they have a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of winning their party’s nomination. And the longer they stick around, the harder it will be for one of the candidates who has more of a shot (like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) to overtake front-runner Donald Trump.

Christie’s and Ramaswamy’s presence simply added to the feeling that these debates are pointless, especially considering Trump refuses to participate.

From left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at the Republican presidential debate on Dec. 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
From left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at the Republican presidential debate on Dec. 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

While the Republican National Committee upped the ante to participate in this possibly final primary debate, it should have raised the bar even more. Christie just squeaked past the requirements, and Ramaswamy wasn’t far behind.

The candidates had to have at least 80,000 unique donors and reach 6% support either in two national polls or in one national poll and polls of two states with early primaries.

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Did Christie mean what he said?

Christie has said that beating Trump is why he’s in the race, but it’s evident he’s NOT the one who’s going to do that. In fact, his inability to see this is adding to the inevitability that Trump will prevail.

He should do the honorable thing, much like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu did in June, in deciding not to run for president. Sununu, like Christie, rightly thinks Trump is bad news for the GOP and the country, but realized that he wouldn’t help by being in the race and that "the stakes are too high for a crowded field.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate.

In a piece explaining his decision, Sununu wrote: “No one can stop candidates from entering this race, but candidates with no path to victory must have the discipline to get out. Anyone polling in the low single digits by this winter needs to have the courage to hang it up and head home.”

Ahem, Ramaswamy and Christie.

Christie is also getting increased pressure from GOP donors and strategists to exit the race and encourage support for Haley, who has gained momentum in recent weeks.

If beating Trump is truly Christie’s goal, that’s what he should do.

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As for Ramaswamy, it’s hard to know why he’s in the race at all. He’s an annoying presence on the debate stage and hogs too much time with his ridiculous stances – and he drags everyone else down. A Trump sycophant, he’s either in this to audition for Trump’s VP, or he thinks he’d be best positioned if Trump were to miraculously drop out.

Ramaswamy should go back to entrepreneurial life and fighting wokeness in the corporate world – things he’s actually good at.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy in an exchange during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy in an exchange during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate.

DeSantis and Haley must go after Trump, not each other

And some advice to DeSantis and Haley: No one wants to hear you tear each other down and squabble over the minute differences between your policy stances.

Such negativity and pettiness make them both look less appealing, with just about a month before the voting contests begin.

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What they need to focus on is why they would be a better option than Trump – and more important, how they would be the best candidate to take on President Joe Biden.

Jim Geraghty of National Review has floated the idea that perhaps DeSantis and Haley should put their pride aside and join forces as a unified ticket. Combining their factions in the party could give them the best shot against Trump.

That seems a long shot, though, as I doubt either one wants to settle for running mate.

Regardless, time is running out for anyone to give Trump serious competition. For there to be a chance of that happening, peripheral candidates like Christie and Ramaswamy need to bow out – the sooner the better.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at ijacques@usatoday.com or on X, formerly Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: GOP debate makes clear both Ramaswamy and Christie should drop out