Chris Christie drops out of Republican race as Trump rivals go head-to-head

Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie has dropped out of the Republican candidacy race but vowed to never let Donald Trump become US president again.

The former New Jersey governor suspended his campaign after claiming there wasn’t a path for him to win the nomination.

His exit also means the removal of the most high-profile and consistent critic of former president Trump.

“My goal has never been to be just a voice against the hate and division and the selfishness of what our party has become under Donald Trump,” Mr Christie told supporters in New Hampshire.

“I am going to make sure that in no way do I enable Donald Trump to ever be president of the United States again. And that’s more important than my own personal ambition.”

His withdrawal came as a surprise as Mr Christie had insisted on Tuesday night that he had no plans to leave the race, continuing to cast himself as the only candidate willing to directly take on the former president, who he used to support and backed throughout his presidency.

Mr Christie also did not immediately endorse either of his main rivals – Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis.

He has criticized both throughout the campaign for failing to directly target Trump for fear of alienating the front-runner’s loyal supporters.

It comes as Haley and DeSantis went head-to-head during a primary debate in Iowa on Wednesday.

The pair accused each other of lying and insulted each other’s records during the opening minutes.

Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also remain in the running, but did not meet the qualification requirements for the debate.

Ms Haley, a former UN ambassador, directed viewers to a website her campaign created chronicling what she said were Mr DeSantis’ lies.