Chris Christie meets Zelenskyy in Ukraine as he tries to build momentum in GOP primary race

Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks with reporters outside the Child Rights Protection Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023.

Efrem Lukatsky | AP

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday met with Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy during a surprise trip to Kyiv.

The unannounced travel was revealed as Christie, a longshot candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, appeared to be making headway in the key primary state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll.

Christie met with Zelenskyy at the presidential palace, where he reiterated his support for increasing U.S. aid to Ukraine — a view that distinguishes him from some of his GOP primary competitors, including former President Donald Trump.

“I am an advocate for there being more aid to Ukraine, more substantial aid to Ukraine,” Christie said according to a pool report, adding that he wanted “to help you win the war.”

Christie also visited Moshchun and Bucha, the site of a reported Russian massacre of Ukrainian civilians that sharply amplified international condemnation of Moscow’s invasion of its European neighbor.

Christie shook hands with Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk before visiting the site of a mass burial, the pool reported. Russia has been accused of war crimes in connection with the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians in the town.

Christie, who jumped into the presidential race in June, quickly established himself as the most aggressively anti-Trump Republican in the running. But while his message has cut through the fray, most national polls of the race have shown him stuck in the low-to-mid single digits.

But the former New Jersey governor has focused his campaign squarely on New Hampshire, and that strategy may be paying off — at least according to one new poll, which put him in third in the Granite State behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Manhattan Institute’s survey of 704 New Hampshire likely primary voters, conducted last month, found 11% of those respondents saying they would pick Christie in the GOP primary. That’s just two percentage points below DeSantis, within the poll’s margin of error of 4%.

Thirty-four percent of the New Hampshire Republicans chose Trump, according to the poll.

Christie’s campaign says it has qualified him to participate in the first Republican debate, set for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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