WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie speaks at the Hudson Institute November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. Christie spoke as part of the Hudson Institute's Presidential Speech Series with presidential candidates. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CNN  — 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he would not sign a six-week federal abortion ban as president because he does not believe such legislation aligns with the views of the American public.

“One thing I know for sure is there is no consensus around a six-week abortion ban nationally,” the GOP presidential candidate said Tuesday on “CNN This Morning,” pointing to recent victories at the ballot box for supporters of abortion rights since the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling was overturned last year.

Christie has said that he personally opposes abortion and that he would only sign a federal bill restricting the procedure if it represented a national consensus, something he acknowledges would be difficult in a divided Congress.

By weighing in specifically on a six-week ban, Christie sought to draw a contrast with some of his Republican rivals on an issue that the party has struggled with following the elimination of federal abortion protections with the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Christie told CNN he thinks primary rival Nikki Haley’s recent comments saying she would sign a six-week abortion ban in her home state of South Carolina if she were still governor could make her potential general election prospects “much more difficult.”

“You could see when [Gov. Ron] DeSantis signed that bill in Florida, it certainly affected his popularity with a broader electorate,” Christie said, referring to a measure the Florida governor signed earlier this year to ban most abortions in the state after six weeks. (That law is currently on hold as the state Supreme Court decides a challenge to an earlier 15-week ban on the procedure.)

Christie pointed out that Haley’s comments on the six-week ban came at an conservative Christian forum earlier this month in Iowa, where she was asked by evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats if she would sign such legislation if she were governor.

“Yes, whatever the people decide, you should go,” Haley said. “I think it’s right to be in the hands of the people. I think that the people decided this was put in the states. That’s where it should be. Everybody can give their voice to it.”

“That’s where the people of South Carolina decided. They decided to be at six weeks as well,” she said. “When we find these states that are more pro-life, it’s a blessing. We should welcome that.”

While Haley has said she would support a 15-week federal abortion ban as president if it were able to get the needed 60 votes in the Senate, she has emphasized that such a scenario is unrealistic. The former governor often describes herself as “unapologetically pro-life” but has said she believes Republicans and Democrats need to find national consensus on the issue.

“I’m going to fight on the side of life every chance I get, but I’m not going to demonize people in the process,” she said at an Iowa evangelical gathering in September.

Christie has sharpened his criticism of Haley in recent weeks, telling CNN on Tuesday, “You can’t say one thing in Iowa and something different in New Hampshire.” A recent CNN poll of the GOP primary in New Hampshire, where Christie has spent most of his time campaigning, found him trailing both former President Donald Trump and Haley, who has also made the state a focus of her efforts to win the GOP nomination.

The former New Jersey governor called the topic of abortion “emotional” and said he thinks the issue should be in the hands of people, not politicians.

“If you are the American people and watch this House of Representatives try to pick a speaker and see what they went through. Watch the Senate not able to promote military officers because they are so paralyzed. You want to put abortion in the hands of those folks? I don’t. As president, I would not sign a six-week abortion ban,” he said.

CNN’s Ebony Davis, Kit Maher and David Wright contributed to this report.