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Nikki Haley Ends Her Week of Saying Stupid Things With a Gift to Trump

The former South Carolina governor seems to have forgotten that she’s running against the former president.

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Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley says she would pardon Donald Trump for the sake of letting the country move on. It’s the latest weird moment in a week of self-sabotage. It’s also the latest example of one of Trump’s ostensible political opponents opting to treat the many criminal accusations against him with solicitousness instead of actually taking advantage of his one massive vulnerability.

During a Thursday campaign event in New Hampshire, a 9-year-old asked Haley if she would pardon Trump. Haley replied that she would. “If he is found guilty, a leader needs to think about what’s in the best interest of the country,” Haley said. “What’s in the best interest of the country is not to have an 80-year-old man sitting in jail, that continues to divide our country.”

“What’s in the best interest of the country would be to pardon him, so that we can move on as a country and no longer talk about him.”

Haley is naïve to think that a pardoned Trump would just go away. There’s a far greater chance that Trump, once fully pardoned, would go right back to what he’s doing now: working to obtain the power necessary to get revenge on his political enemies, and working behind the scenes to undermine democracy. With the support of his fervent fan base and his well-documented tendency to bear grudges, he’d likely undermine even a Republican successor.

This isn’t the first time Haley has suggested pardoning Trump if he is convicted in one of his many lawsuits. After Trump was indicted in June for hoarding classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Haley said she “would be inclined in favor of a pardon” for him if he is found guilty.

Haley’s opinion on a potential Trump pardon came just hours after she refused to say that slavery was one of the main factors in the Civil War. Instead, she insisted at a Wednesday night campaign stop that the war was fought over the role of government and (white) people’s freedoms.

When asked about Haley’s lack of comments on slavery, her fellow presidential hopeful Chris Christie accused her of running scared. (Christie doesn’t appear to have a chance of winning, but he isn’t shy about calling out his fellow candidates.)

“She didn’t say it because she’s a racist, because she’s not,” Christie said Thursday. “She did it because she’s unwilling to offend anyone by telling the truth.”

“If she is unwilling to stand up and say that slavery is what caused the Civil War because she’s afraid of offending constituents in some other part of the country, if she’s afraid to say that Donald Trump is unfit because she’s afraid of offending people who support Donald Trump, and because maybe she harbors in the back of her mind being vice president or being secretary of state … what’s going to happen when she has to stand up against forces in our own party who want to drag this country deeper and deeper into anger and division and exhaustion?”

Ohio’s Republican Governor Vetoes Bill Blocking Care for Trans Minors

Mike DeWine bucked his party, which has grown increasingly hostile to the LGBTQ community in recent years.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine shocked everyone Friday when he vetoed a bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors, a major win for LGBTQ residents of the Buckeye State.

House Bill 68 would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary teenagers. The measure would have applied to treatments including puberty blockers, hormones, and medical procedures; it also included prohibitions on trans high school and college students participating on sports teams that match their gender identity.

“Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state—that the government—knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most: the parents,” DeWine said at a press conference.

“I cannot sign this bill as it is currently written. Just a few minutes ago, I vetoed this bill.”

More than 500 people testified against the bill in early December, including representatives for most major medical institutions in the state and the country. DeWine cited the medical support for gender-affirming care as a factor in his decision, as well as conversations he had with trans teens and their parents.

“Parents have looked me in the eye and told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead,” he said. “And youth who are transgender have told me they are thriving today because of their transition.”

DeWine’s decision is a rare bright spot in the current onslaught of measures restricting access to gender-affirming care. GOP-led states have passed hundreds of bills banning health care for trans teens and adults. The few victories are often the result of a Republican breaking ranks, such as in Louisiana, where Republican state Senator Fred Mills cast the deciding vote in May to kill a gender-affirming care ban in committee. Unfortunately, the Louisiana Republicans resurrected the bill and successfully passed it through a different committee. That ban will go into effect on January 1.

Maine Adds Pain to Trump’s Presidential Ballot Woes

The Pine Tree State joins Colorado in disqualifying the former president from seeking office—a decision that will likely force the Supreme Court to settle the matter.

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Maine has disqualified Donald Trump from its 2024 primary ballot, the second time this month that a state has made the historic move regarding the former president.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows ruled Thursday that Trump had engaged in insurrection during the January 6 attack, rendering himself ineligible for elected office under the text of Article Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. Trump’s team had desperately tried to stop her from handing down this decision, arguing that Bellows should have recused herself from the case because of past comments she had made about the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Bellows determined that the January 6 attack was “violent enough, potent enough, and long enough to constitute an insurrection.” Trump, she stated in her decision, “used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.”

“The events of January 6, 2021 were unprecedented and tragic,” Bellows wrote. “The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President. The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government, and [Maine law] requires me to act in response.”

Bellows’s decision comes a little more than a week after the Colorado Supreme Court also determined that Trump had engaged in insurrection and barred him from the state’s primary ballot. Neither decision will go into effect immediately so Trump has time to appeal.

Multiple other states are currently weighing cases regarding Trump’s ballot eligibility. The secretaries of state in Michigan, Minnesota, and California have all determined that Trump will remain on their presidential ballots. The next decision will likely come out of Oregon.

While it’s possible that other states might come to the same conclusion reached by election officials in Maine and Colorado, the question of whether Trump will ultimately appear on these states’ ballots will likely be determined by the Supreme Court. Trump’s campaign has already said it will appeal the Maine and Colorado decisions. The Colorado Republican Party on Wednesday asked the nation’s high court to review the state Supreme Court decision.

While the Supreme Court is not required to take the case, there is a sense of momentum that this dispute is headed its way, as  legal scholars have called on the justices to resolve the issue. Their decision will provide a single rule for all states—instead of having a messy mix of some state ballots with Trump’s name and some without—and will likely shape how the Fourteenth Amendment’s language will be interpreted going forward.

The Day Trump’s Plot to Overturn the Election Got Stuck in the Mail

A new CNN report shines a light on the idiocy and cynicism of the president’s inner circle as they tried to pull off their madcap scheme to remain in power.

Kenneth Chesebro speaks to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee during a hearing where Chesebro accepted a plea deal in a case related to his alleged role as the legal architect of a fake elector plot to undermine the 2020 elections.
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Kenneth Chesebro speaks to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee during a hearing where Chesebro accepted a plea deal in a case related to his alleged role as the legal architect of a fake elector plot to undermine the 2020 elections.

It turns out that pulling off a scheme to use fake electors to overturn a presidential election isn’t as easy as you might think. What if, for example, the fake elector documents you ginned up to further the plot somehow gets stuck in the mail? Well, then you have to go to elaborate lengths to make sure that your counterfeit credentials make it to Washington in time to stop the actual electoral votes from being counted—an “all hands on deck” moment for President Donald Trump’s crackerjack gang of coup plotters.

That’s one of the primary takeaways from a new report from CNN, adding fresh details to the way Trump’s inner circle plotted to get Vice President Mike Pence to throw a spanner in the works in the days before Trump’s desperate effort to hold onto power in the days before the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. The news comes at a time when secretaries of state around the country are mulling whether Trump’s efforts to topple the electoral process should get him booted from the presidential ballot under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Late Thursday afternoon, CNN reported that it had obtained “emails and recordings” that shine a light on “the chaotic last-minute effort to keep Donald Trump in office”—specifically that the plotters’ “fake elector certificates from two critical battleground states were stuck in the mail.” Per CNN:

So, Trump campaign operatives scrambled to fly copies of the phony certificates from Michigan and Wisconsin to the nation’s capital, relying on a haphazard chain of couriers, as well as help from two Republicans in Congress, to try to get the documents to then-Vice President Mike Pence while he presided over the Electoral College certification.

The operatives even considered chartering a jet to ensure the files reached Washington, DC, in time for the January 6, 2021, proceeding, according to emails and recordings obtained by CNN.

This fresh material comes courtesy of improbably named Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro—an indicted co-conspirator in the Georgia election fraud case who has since been cooperating with prosecutors. According to the CNN report, the two Republican lawmakers who were part of this comedic courier chain of fake documents were Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and “a Pennsylvania GOP lawmaker that he believed was Rep. Scott Perry.” (CNN goes on to note that the January 6 committee’s report says “a staffer for a different Pennsylvania Republican, Rep. Mike Kelly, helped shuttle the documents that day.”)

In 2017, The New Republic’s Jeet Heer wrote that the oft-maligned Coen brothers movie Burn After Reading—about a group of imbeciles who have only the most limited understanding of the world around them who get involved in cynical, seriocomic plot that effectively “captures the amorality that leads people to become entangled in mercenary treason”—was “singularly prophetic of the Trump era.” I think we can all agree that Heer’s take has aged very well.

“Parental Rights” Activist Allegedly Threw Drunken Underage Party—and Punched Teen

The onetime candidate for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania is going to miss out on the Mother of the Year award.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A conservative parental rights activist and former candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor has been charged for providing alcohol to minors at a party in September and then punching one of the attendees.

Clarice Schillinger was charged in late October over the incident at her home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half’s drive north of Philadelphia. The charges were reported on Thursday. The 36-year-old faces charges of assault, harassment, and furnishing minors with alcohol. Her lawyer has denied the charges.

Schillinger has earned some notoriety in her home state for launching a political action committee in 2021 aimed at preventing schools from implementing lockdowns due to Covid-19. She also made a wildly unsuccessful bid for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor last year.

The October charges stem from a 17th birthday party Schillinger hosted for her daughter the month prior. According to the police report, Schillinger stocked a drinks table with vodka and rum, poured alcohol for the teenage guests, asked them to take shots with her, and played beer pong with them.

Things took a turn for the worse when Schillinger began to fight with her then-boyfriend, Shan Wilson. When a teenager tried to intervene, Wilson grabbed the teen by the neck. Schillinger’s mother allegedly punched the teen in the eye and chased him around the kitchen.

Wilson later hit another teen during an argument, after which some of the adolescent partygoers began to leave to get away from the adults. But things continued to escalate as Schillinger told them to stay and then grabbed one partygoer who was trying to depart. That teen told police that Schillinger hit him three times with a closed fist but didn’t injure him.

One of the partygoer’s parents called the police early the next morning, on September 30, to report the assault and the underage drinking. As it turned out, this was not the first time police had been called to Schillinger’s home for an out-of-control party. One week before, police responded to a noise complaint at Schillinger’s house. Officers saw beer cans thrown all around the front yard and street, and saw about 20 teenagers run into the house when the authorities approached.

Schillinger made a name for herself in 2021 when she launched a PAC to back candidates that opposed closing schools down as a Covid-19 safety measure. She has described her PAC and organization as bipartisan and single-issue, but they only back Republican candidates.

That first year, her organization took credit for flipping six school districts. But they fell victim to the pushback against parental rights activists, which delivered major wins for Democrats nationwide this past fall. Schillinger also ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2022. She finished fourth, with a little more than 148,000 votes out of the 1.2 million cast in total.

Schillinger is the latest case of a conservative activist falling ironically short of the moral standards to which she holds other people. Most recently, the national organization Moms for Liberty has been rocked by a rape allegation. A woman revealed she had engaged in threesomes with Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler and her husband, Christian Ziegler. The woman accused Christian Ziegler of sexually assaulting her.

Chris Christie Responds to Critics By Setting Huge Pile of Money on Fire

The former New Jersey governor has been advised to quit while he’s nowhere near ahead, but he’s buying more ads instead.

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Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

To gain traction in the Republican presidential primary, Chris Christie has gone all out by going all in—specifically, with a massive ad campaign in New Hampshire that he hopes might fan the dying flames of his presidential run. But seeing as he’s mired in the low single-digits of RealClearPolitics’s rolling average of the last three weeks of polling, it’s far more likely that he will just crash and burn.

Christie’s campaign unveiled a seven-figure ad buy in New Hampshire that launched Thursday. In the first ad, Christie addresses calls for him to drop out of the race and tries to bring the focus back to stopping Donald Trump.

“Some people say I should drop out of this race. Really? I’m the only one saying Donald Trump is a liar,” Christie says of the man whose presidential transition team he briefly led.

Trump will “burn America to the ground to help himself,” Christie warns in the ad. “Every Republican leader says that in private. I’m the only one saying it in public.”

The next ad, which launches Friday, will include a “call for unity and moving past our differences,” a Christie aide told Politico, speaking anonymously. The ads will run on both broadcast and digital media platforms throughout New Hampshire.

Christie has hung his hopes on a successful breakthrough in the Granite State. After flaming out spectacularly in the state’s primary during his 2016 run, Christie has been laser-focused on charming the state’s Republicans and formally launched his current campaign in New Hampshire.

But the new ad buy is one of the biggest expenses of Christie’s campaign thus far, and unfortunately, it looks unlikely to pay the dividends he’ll need if he wants to climb up in the race. Christie has an average of just 3.3 percent support in national polls, far behind Trump’s average of 62.5 percent. In New Hampshire, Christie is faring comparatively better, but that’s not saying much: RealClearPolitics has him third in the race with 10.5 in the state’s rolling average. That puts him more than 14 points behind Nikki Haley and a daunting 36 points behind Trump.

Christie has spent his entire campaign hammering the same message that his new ad buy is themed around: painting Trump, as well as a few other Republican candidates, as too extreme. But it’s not clear that casting himself as a more moderate option holds much appeal for Republican voters. The rather terrifying reality is that it looks as if many Trump voters actually want a candidate willing to break the laws. It could be that the money Christie plans to spend highlighting the fact that Trump wants to “burn America to the ground” will end up being an in-kind donation to the former president.

Lauren Boebert’s Sad Plan to Save Her Political Career

The Colorado controversy magnet has apparently worn out her welcome at home and will have to inflict herself on new voters to win reelection.

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Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert

Representative Lauren Boebert has apparently come to the realization that she can’t win reelection, so she’s changing districts in an attempt to stay in Congress.

Boebert currently represents Colorado’s 3rd district, where she just barely eked out a reelection win in 2022. She announced Wednesday night that in 2024, she will abandon her home district to make a run in Colorado’s 4th district instead, a Republican stronghold currently represented by Ken Buck—who in recent years has often found himself at odds with his party.

“I did not arrive at this decision easily,” Boebert said in a video announcing the change. “A lot of prayer, a lot of tough conversations, and a lot of perspective convinced me that this is the best way I can continue to fight for Colorado, for the conservative movement, and for my children’s future.”

“Republicans will hold the 3rd, and I’ll proudly represent the 4th, and Republicans will be stronger for it.”

Although Boebert is playing her decision off as a strategic move for the greater good of the party, she is really tacitly admitting that she doesn’t think she stands a chance at winning reelection. She won by just 546 votes in 2022, after a tight election that nearly went to a recount.

Still, while state Democrats celebrated Boebert’s decision, it’s unclear whether the Democratic candidate for the 3rd district, Adam Frisch, can win without Boebert as his foil. The last time the district elected a Democrat was in 2008; Frisch came close in 2022 largely because Boebert has stoked so much antipathy among voters.

When Frisch ran against Boebert last year, his campaign focused tightly on a message of rejecting her—not the Republican Party at large. There are already multiple Republican candidates who were vying to primary Boebert, and now that she’s out, more GOP hopefuls may jump in.

But it’s not a given that Boebert will win in the 4th. She has been struggling with a public image that casts her as a political extremist, and she received a humiliating dose of national backlash after she and a date were caught on security cameras talking, using their phones, vaping, and groping each other while seeing a performance of Beetlejuice.

What’s more, she would be running to replace Buck. Despite being on the ideological far right of his party—Buck and Boebert are both members of the Freedom Caucus—Buck has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. He announced in November that he won’t seek reelection, pointing to Republicans’ embrace of 2020 election denialism and their inability to accomplish anything.

There are already multiple candidates in the race to replace Buck, and more are expected to join in the coming days. One of those candidates, state Representative Richard Holtorf, has already slammed Boebert for “carpetbagging.”

“Seat shopping isn’t something the voters look kindly upon,” he said in a statement. “If you can’t win in your home, you can’t win here.” In her attempt to stay in power, Boebert may just have signed her own walking papers.

Nikki Haley Serves Up a Hilarious Bowl of Civil War Word Salad

A New Hampshire voter put the presidential aspirant to the test—which she failed in comedic fashion.

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Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley is so confused about what caused the Civil War that she had to ask a potential voter to help her out. During a New Hampshire campaign event on Wednesday, one of the voters on hand had a simple question for Haley: What was the proximate cause of the Civil War?

Thus began the former South Carolina Governor’s strained intellectual journey. “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how the government was gonna run, the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do,” Haley said. “What do you think the cause of the Civil War was?”

When the voter, who has remained anonymous, politely reminded Haley that it was she, and not they, who was running for president, Haley dug deep and brought forward another few sentences of balderdash.

“I think it always comes down to the role of government,” she said. “We need to have capitalism, we need to have economic freedom, we need to make sure that we do all things so that individuals have the liberties, so that they can have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to do or be anything they want to be without government getting in the way.”

The questioner pushed back, saying, “In the year 2023, it’s astonishing to me that you answer that question without mentioning the word ‘slavery.’”

“What do you want me to say about slavery?” Haley snapped back.

Haley’s not wrong to assert that the Civil War was about certain “freedoms” and economic rights. It’s just that the main division, as far as rights and freedoms are concerned, centered on whether the South could continue to have an economy based on owning other human beings as chattel.

It’s not as if the states that provoked the conflict were trying to be secretive about their grievances. When South Carolina, Haley’s home state, seceded from the Union in 1860, the secessionists explicitly stated that their decision was rooted in “increasing hostility on the part of the nonslaveholding States to the institution of slavery.”

This isn’t the first time that Haley has tried to downplay the role of slavery and racism in the Civil War. When she ran for South Carolina governor in 2010, Haley said the war was between sides fighting for “tradition” versus “change” and insisted the Confederate flag was “not something that is racist.”

After she was elected, Haley continued to fly the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds until 2015, when another uniquely American tradition—a mass shooting perpetrated by a white supremacist gunman that resulted in the deaths of eight Black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina—finally forced her hand. But even as she ordered the flag removed, Haley said the shooter had “hijacked” the Confederate flag from people who saw it as a symbol of “sacrifice and heritage.”

While Haley’s wilful blindness about the Civil War is upsetting, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Her comments came just hours after her fellow South Carolinian Lindsay Graham insisted the conservatives are “tolerant.” The senator seemed to forget the hundreds of bills across the country restricting people from living their lives as they wanted (that is to say, differently from how Republicans want them).

Lindsey Graham Seems Unfamiliar With the Republican Party

In a recent appearance on Fox News, the South Carolina senator offered up a whiplash-inducing summation of his party’s values.

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Senator Lindsay Graham has an interesting (that is to say, delusional) opinion of how his fellow Republicans treat people with views that are different from their own.

The South Carolina Republican embarked on a remarkable intellectual journey to arrive at this destination. On Wednesday, Graham made an appearance on Fox News to complain about a new bill being considered by the New York state legislature that would require the restaurants located in the state’s highway rest areas to be open seven days a week. The only firm that runs afoul of this law appears to be Chick-fil-A, which is closed on Sundays as an extension of its founder’s conservative Christian values.

Graham made a specific demand of the Democrats seated in the state legislature: Do as conservatives do and just leave well enough alone. “Bottom line is, conservatives are tolerant,” he said. “We are, you know, kind of, get out of your business, you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.”

To find proof of just how wrong Graham is, look no further than the company he’s defending. Chick-fil-A donated considerably to anti-LGBTQ organizations for years. While the company stopped those donations in 2019, owner Dan Cathy still contributes to anti-LGBTQ groups.

Meanwhile, across the country, Republicans have pushed bill after bill limiting LGBTQ people’s rights to perform in drag, access health care, or simply be in public. They have passed laws preventing people from getting abortions, forcing them to flee out of state for medical treatments—if they can afford to, that is. Graham himself tried last fall to pass a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks.

All of those things—how someone dresses, what health care they seek, whom they choose to love—are arguably just “their business.” And yet despite Graham’s claim of tolerance, Republicans seem to feel justified in legislating all of that away.

It is, however, genuinely good that the Republican Party has become a haven for those who lack self-awareness. Baby steps!

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Campaign May Not Make It to Iowa

While the candidate is putting a shiny spin on the news, the long shot candidate has suspended its television advertising buys just weeks before the primary’s first contests.

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Pharmaceutical company executive-turned-Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy is facing a fresh round of speculation that his long shot bid for the White House’s days are numbered, with multiple news outlets reporting that his campaign has suspended all of its plans to spend money on television advertising, even as the first critical contests of the GOP primary loom on the calendar—the Iowa caucuses are scheduled for January 15, with the New Hampshire primary following eight days later.

As NBC News reported on Wednesday, Ramaswamy’s campaign has conspicuously stopped spending on television advertisements and currently has no airtime reserved for any future television spots. The report notes that the candidate spent “more than $200,000” on television ads the first full week of December, after an early November announcement that the campaign had plans to spend upwards of $10 million on combined advertising in the early primary states. “Since that announcement, the campaign has spent $2.2 million on TV, digital and radio ads, according to AdImpact,” NBC News reports.

While the cessation of ad buys is traditionally associated with campaigns that are on or near the proverbial ropes, Ramaswamy is spinning the decision as an innovation rather than a setback. The Daily Beast reported that the candidate defiantly confirmed NBC’s report with a post on X (formerly Twitter) that characterized television ad buys as an “idiotic” waste of money. Per the Daily Beast:

“Presidential TV ad spending is idiotic, low-ROI & a trick that political consultants use to bamboozle candidates who suffer from low IQ,” Ramaswamy posted to X on Tuesday night, confirming an NBC report that first broke the story of his pivot.

After months of campaigning and with less than three weeks to go until the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses, Ramaswamy now says he plans on “doing it differently.”

His campaign said it intends to focus in on mail, text and door-to-door outreach, spending “$$ in a way that follows data…apparently a crazy idea in US politics,” Ramaswamy said in his tweet.   

Following the data, it would appear that Ramaswamy is running a distant fourth in the most recent Real Clear Politics polling average of the last three weeks of the race—58 points behind former President Donald Trump and seven points behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; he remains slightly ahead of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In recent weeks, his campaign has left the impression that it is not actually trying to win anymore, and his debate performances have strayed into bizarre, conspiratorial territory

Trump greeted the news of Ramaswamy’s ad buy suspension with a prediction of his own“He will, I am sure, Endorse me. But Vivek is a good man, and is not done yet!” Trump posted on Truth Social.