🐘Christie believes a third-party candidate could make a difference

🐘He would need to "see a path to 270 electoral votes" to get back in

🐘The former governor just released a new book about Ronald Reagan

In his first interview since dropping out of the Republican presidential race former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is keeping the door open to re-entering the race as a third-party candidate.

It was among the topics the Republicans discussed with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in a sitdown aired the day his new book "What Would Reagan Do" was released.  Before his recent run for the White House Christie was part of "ABC This Week" hosted by Stephanopoulos.

The book takes a look at the actor-turned-politician and connects them to the "national challenges of today," according to an official description of the book.

Christie said that his decision to leave the race was confirmed by a last round of polling he received the Sunday before his announcement that he said showed it was impossible to defeat Donald Trump. The former president went on to win the primary by 11 points over Nikki Haley.

"To me, once I became convinced I couldn't beat him in New Hampshire, it was time to get out," Christie said.

Christie has not backed off his belief that Donald Trump should not be elected president again and called his endorsement of him in 2016 "the biggest mistake I made in my political career." He will not endorse another candidate at this point for fear they would turn around and endorse Trump which would reflect on him.

Chris Christie speaks to George Stephanopoulos
Chris Christie speaks to George Stephanopoulos (Good Morning America via YouTube)

Third-party run

Christie said he will not vote for Trump should he become the Republican nominee for president. But he's not sure of who will be on the ballot in November and said there could be a candidate backed by the political group No Labels. Could Christie be that candidate?

Former Republican-turned-independent U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, the group's founding chairman, told Fox News in January his group has reached out to Christie's campaign. Christie told Stephanopoulos that he has not spoken to anyone from No Labels but if there was ever a time for a third-party candidate to make a difference it would be 2024.

"What I've said in the past is that I'd have to see a path for anybody — not just me — but I think anybody who would accept that would need to see a path to 270, 270 electoral votes," Christie said.

Donald Trump and Chris Christie on May 19, 2016 in Lawrenceville
Donald Trump and Chris Christie on May 19, 2016 in Lawrenceville (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump: 'Vendetta presidency'

As for the Republican race, Christie said if Trump wins in November he would have a hard time filling key positions for what he called a “vendetta presidency.” A lot of "good people" joined the Trump administration but were fired or quit. Many of them have been the subject of ridicule and attack by Trump at campaign rallies and on his Truth social media platform.

"​I cannot imagine the crew that he'll put together," Christie said. "And he will do it with an eye much different than in '16. In '16, he was scared. He didn't expect to win, and he was intimidated by the presidency when he first got there. He will not be this time."

Trump had said during campaign appearances in the fall that if elected he would seek retribution against President Joe Biden and his "political enemies." Trump has since backed off that statement and told ABC News in January he wouldn't have time for retribution.

Chris Christie announces he is dropping out of the race during a town hall event in Windham, NH
Chris Christie announces he is dropping out of the race during a town hall event in Windham, NH (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Regrets hot mic comment about Haley

Christie said he regrets his comments about Haley "getting smoked" captured on a hot microphone just before he announced he was getting out during what would be his final New Hampshire campaign event. It was his son Andrew watching a live feed of the event who made him aware of the gaffe.

"Hot mic! Hot mic! Hot mic," his son called and told him from the Dominican Republic. "It's one of those moments I wish, quite frankly, hadn't happened, just 'cause it was a distraction. But on the other hand, I didn't say anything on the hot mic that I didn't essentially say in the speech that I gave about 10 minutes later."

Christie said he later called Haley and had a conversation he estimates lasted about 45 seconds during which they wished each other well.

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