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Chris Christie Endorses Donald Trump, Donald Trump Steals Post-Debate News Cycle

Chris Christie Donald Trump

In what may be the most surprising twist yet in a campaign that has defied convention, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared at at press conference in Fort Worth, Texas and endorsed Donald Trump for President:

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday received the high-profile endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a stunning blow to the four remaining Republican White House hopefuls who are urgently hoping to stymie the billionaire’s path to the nomination.

“I’ve gotten to know all the people on that stage, and there is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs, both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump,” Christie said during a news conference with Trump here in Fort Worth.

The surprise endorsement comes as the Trump campaign continues its charge toward the Republican nomination. A strong showing in the March 1 “Super Tuesday” primaries, when 11 states will cast ballots in the GOP race, could dramatically expand Trump’s delegate lead.

The New Jersey governor’s endorsement could potentially recast the GOP nominating contest yet again, giving Trump — already the undisputed front-runner — the weight and validation of a respected Republican executive officeholder who once himself raised questions about the candidate’s readiness to take office. Trump’s critics have persistently scrutinized his grasp of public policy and his bombastic style.

“Donald Trump is someone who when he makes a promise, he keeps it,” Christie said. “No one is going to get inside this guy’s head. There is no better fighter than Donald Trump.”

Christie said that he believes the party needs to elect the candidate most likely to beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Trump, the governor said, is “undoubtedly” the best person for the job and “is rewriting the playbook of American politics.”

Christie said that he finalized his decision to come out in support of Trump after ending his own presidential campaign. He said he sat down with his family to discuss their role in the campaign moving forward and concluded “it was clear the only choice was Donald Trump, the best choice was Donald Trump.”

Both Christie and Trump emphasized that they have known each other for years both personally and professionally. Trump and Christie finalized the endorsement Thursday, they told reporters.The surprise backing is a blow to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is seeking to become the main challenger to Trump for the Republican nomination. On Friday, Christie blasted Rubio’s escalating personal attacks against the billionaire, calling them an act of desperation. Christie added that Rubio represents the Washington establishment.

“I find it fascinating that somebody who barely shows up for work … is going to talk about somebody being unprepared,” Christie said.

“He’s a desperate guy,” Trump added later. “He is not presidential material. He doesn’t have the demeanor. He is a nervous nellie.”

Trump dismissed a question from reporters about whether Christie was being considered for the vice presidential nomination or for a Cabinet position, saying that they never discussed that when Christie called to offer his endorsement. The governor said he is committed to fulfilling his term in office, which ends in 2018.

Christie has largely been quiet in the two weeks since he dropped out of the race in the wake of a disappointing sixth place finish in the New Hampshire Primary, where he had pinned most of his own hopes for a viable campaign going forward, and to the extent that he has been in the news since then it has been in stories focused on his efforts to repair his political standing back in New Jersey and move forward with the business of the state. When he did drop out, there had been some speculation that he would turn around and offer an endorsement and the conventional wisdom at the time was that he would end up endorsing an “establishment” candidate like Jeb Bush or John Kasich if he endorsed anyone at all. Given the fact that both of these candidates comes from the same general wing of the Republican Party that Christie does, it would be the kind of endorsement that would make complete sense. For that matter, a Christie endorsement of Marco Rubio, notwithstanding the now legendary debate showdown the two men had at the debate before the New Hampshire Primary, would make sense given Rubio’s ties to Bush and the fact that much of the party establishment seems to be rallying behind the Florida Senator in what is basically a last ditch attempt to stop Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Christie endorsing Trump is, quite honestly, a truly surprising move on Christie’s part that makes one wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the GOP establishment making its peace with Donald Trump as it becomes more likely that he will be the Republican nominee. It was just yesterday that Trump received his first endorsements from Members of Congress, specifically from California Congressman Duncan Hunter and New York Congressman Chris Collins, and it was just last week that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that he believed he could work with a President Trump and there have been reports that other Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have been saying for weeks now that they would prefer Trump to Cruz because they believed they could make deals with Trump whereas Cruz has proven himself to be completely unwilling to engage in deal making and compromise. Given that, I would expect that this Christie endorsement is just the beginning of the endorsements that will be coming Trump’s way in the near future.

As a general rule, I am not one who believes that endorsements from politicians and failed candidates for office matter very much in the grand scheme of an election. The average voter doesn’t make their decision on who to vote for based on an endorsement from some other politician, and in this particular case it seems unlikely that Chris Christie endorsing Trump is going to influence many voters in Texas or many of the others Super Tuesday states. That being said, I can see several respects in which Chris Christie endorsing Trump can help the campaign going forward. First of all, as he proved in New Jersey in 2009 and 2013, during the 2014 election when he engaged in campaigning for many Republican Governors as head of the Republican Governor’s Association, and in the one-on-one campaigning he did in New Hampshire since entering the Presidential race, Christie can be a very effective campaigner when he wants to be. Properly deployed in states in the Northeast and Midwest he could be an effective surrogate for Trump in several states. Second, Christie’s contacts with several top Republican donors such as Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone could be useful in holding off the donor class from rallying behind Rubio or Cruz in a last ditch “Stop Trump” effort.

Finally, and perhaps of most immediate importance for next week’s Super Tuesday primary, today’s surprise announcement of the Christie endorsement has effectively ended what had the potential to be a somewhat bad news cycle for Trump in the wake of last night’s debate. All morning, the political news coverage was essentially non-stop coverage of the dual attacks on Trump by Rubio and Cruz, attacks which Rubio continued this morning. That’s over now thanks to Chris Christie and what appears to be a return of the old Donald Trump at the political rally that followed the joint news conference announcing the endorsement. Whatever benefit Rubio may have hoped to get from the debate may be completely muted now, and that’s probably exactly what Trump intended. Say what you will about Donald Trump’s politics, but I haven’t seen anyone more adept at handling the political media since the days of Michael Deaver and Lee Atwater. Trump has been a media master for decades now, and he’s putting all those skills to use in this campaign. If you can put aside his xenophobia, racism, and the hatred he inspires in people, it’s possible to be quite impressed just watching it. Then you wake up and you realize that it has put him on the verge of being the nominee of one of America’s major political parties. And that’s just a bit scary.

Update: Christie’s endorsement appears to have led to another Governor to endorse Trump, specifically Paul LePage of Maine:

This isn’t entirely surprising since LePage had endorsed Christie for President and has been close to Christie in the past.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    One bully endorsing another bully. News at 11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. Tillman says:

    Anyone remember the post-debate coverage, when CNN was interviewing Donald Trump and he claimed that he saw the Rubio/Cruz double-teaming on him coming? Normal bluster for him sure, but… Christie’s been out of the race for two weeks. Allegedly, Trump congratulated him at the debate on-stage during commercial after he eviscerated Rubio (like recognizing like). It’s unlikely Christie’s endorsement was courted by Trump just since this morning.

    Was this a deliberate move to undercut any possible momentum Rubio or Cruz could get from a good debate performance? Was this in place before the debate? Trump’s using the political equivalent of drunken boxing and winning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. C. Clavin says:

    I wonder how much Trump had to pay Christie to say;

    “…there is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs, both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump…”

    I mean…the clown car is full of losers…but to say that Trump is leadership America needs? Grifting like that doesn’t come cheap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  4. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I wonder how much Trump had to pay Christie to say that

    Trump has promised to give Christie control over all waste management in the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  5. @C. Clavin:

    Keep an eye on the FEC Reports to see who pays off the roughly $100k in debt that Christie’s Presidential campaign reported at the end of the last reporting cycle.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  6. @Tillman:

    The political equivalent of Rope-a-Dope?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. SenyorDave says:

    There goes Trump’s chance of winning NJ in the general election. I’m from NJ originally, and have family and friends there, and to a person, regardless of political affiliation, they loather Christie. He’s one of the most unprincipled politicians I’ve seen, and that says a lot. Sam Brownback is an ignoramus, but he actually seems to have principles, as destructive as they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @PJ:
    Trump wishes he had that kind of power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. bloated sack of protoplasm says:

    @PJ:..Trump has promised to give Christie control over all waste management in the US.

    New Cabinet Post. Christie will be named the first Bridgemaster General.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  10. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s Christie, before Trump paid him for his endorsement.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/christie-past-comments-trump

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  11. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Other things that Christie said about Trump:

    “Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America,” Christie said of Trump.

    Get ready for the Carnival Barker in Chief!

    During a January town hall in New Hampshire, Christie pointed out that he has more experience than Trump.

    “I tell everybody who goes to a Donald Trump event, if you get to ask a question, just ask him ‘how?'” Christie said. “I don’t care which of the things he talks about just ask him, ‘How? How?'”

    “I can answer ‘how?’ because I’ve done it,” he continued, adding, “that’s the difference between a governor and Donald Trump. That’s the different between a governor and (senator) Marco Rubio. That’s the different between a governor and (senator) Ted Cruz.”

    Good to know that Christie thinks that Trump after the last month of campaigning has now passed the threshold to lead the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @bloated sack of protoplasm:
    Ha!!! Secretary of Transportation. Nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. PJ says:

    The Newt calls this “a major breakthrough” for Trump. And that it will “impact super tuesday bug time.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Argon says:

    Excellent! What better than to sit back with a bowl of popcorn watching people I have absolutely no sympathy for have complete freak outs over the endorsement!

    I’m lounging in blissfull schadenfreude. Thanks Christie!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Moosebreath says:

    In other endorsement news, Lindsay Graham endorsed Trump to try to hex him:

    “Here’s my contribution to the country: I ran for president, and I had to get out. I endorsed Jeb Bush, and he had to get out. I’m the Dr. Kevorkian of the Republican primary.

    Tonight, I endorse Donald Trump.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  16. CSK says:

    The funniest part of all this is reading the comments by Trump supporters. Just yesterday they hated Christie’s guts. Now they’re drooling all over him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Hal_10000 says:

    Christie’s probably hoping that Trump goes down in flames so that he (Christie) can run again in 2016. It’s the same murder-suicide he pulled off a few weeks ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. humanoid.panda says:

    @SenyorDave:

    There goes Trump’s chance of winning NJ in the general election.

    That’s like saying I will never play in the NBA unless if I skip the gym tonight: zero odds can’t be reduce further.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Andre Kenji says:
  20. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Keep an eye on the FEC Reports to see who pays off the roughly $100k in debt that Christie’s Presidential campaign reported at the end of the last reporting cycle.

    First reaction of my wife: “Do you think five or six figures?”. Knowing both Christie and Trumps media savvy that sounds pretty possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Wouldn’t it be something if Trump wins the nomination and picks Christie as his running mate? It would be the most grotesque ticket since Nixon/Agnew…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. CSK says:

    Paul LePage has endorsed Trump as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. MBunge says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Here is what is wrong with American politics and why, in part, people are supporting Trump.

    Graham is a nearly foaming at the mouth, neocon warmonger who not only learned NOTHING from the spectacular failure of his favored policies during the W. Bush administration, he quite obviously thinks they’ve somehow been validated.

    Yet this blood-flecked fool is considered a perfectly acceptable member of polite society, while Donald Trump is the one to be ostracized and shunned.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  24. grumpy realist says:

    Trump wants to be able to sue reporters more easily.. The fact that the Supreme Court is against him doesn’t even seem to cross his mind.

    Sigh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. C. Clavin says:

    I am more amazed every day that people are watching this shit show and think everything is fine and these clowns are perfectly capable of being the President of the United States of America.
    Washington
    Jefferson
    Teddy Roosevelt
    Lincoln
    Trump
    WTF?!?!?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0