Chris Christie had had enough.
After standing mostly silent for the first 25 minutes of the Republican presidential debate, Mr. Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, stepped into the spotlight — and in front of an attack on Nikki Haley by Vivek Ramaswamy — with the blunt force that has become his political trademark.
“Let me tell you something,” Mr. Christie barked at Mr. Ramaswamy, waving his hand after Mr. Ramaswamy suggested Ms. Haley was lacking basic knowledge about the war in Ukraine. “This is the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most obnoxious blowhard in America. So shut up for a little while.”
Mr. Ramaswamy managed a quick laugh, and quickly tried to interrupt. But Mr. Christie maintained control of the microphone, yelling at his rival across the stage in Alabama that he wasn’t finished speaking. Mr. Ramaswamy, who has been aggressive with his debate disruptions, stood down.
But not for long. Mr. Ramaswamy bided his time, and then it got ugly.
“Chris, your version of foreign policy experience was closing a bridge from New Jersey to New York,” Mr. Ramaswamy soon shot back, scowling at Mr. Christie across the stage and wagging his right index finger at him.
It was a dig at Mr. Christie’s most devastating political moment, when his administration in New Jersey effectively shut down a busy bridge to New York as political retribution against a small-town mayor who hadn’t endorsed his re-election bid. And Mr. Ramaswamy had another sharp dig in store aimed at Mr. Christie’s weight.
“So do everybody a favor,” Mr. Ramaswamy told Mr. Christie. “Just walk yourself off that stage, enjoy a nice meal and get the hell out of this race.”