Former 2016 candidate and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his endorsement of Donald Trump on Friday. Christie says he believes Trump has the best chance to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall election; the New Jersey governor also defended Trump against attacks by Republicans Rubio and Cruz, saying that “desperate people do desperate things.” Christie cited a long-standing friendship with his former campaign rival and said the New York businessman can “take on the D.C. establishment,” including Clinton and the Democrats. Introducing Trump before a rally in Fort Worth, Christie said the billionaire won’t let Clinton get within “10 feet of the White House.”
The stunning announcement came as Rubio and Cruz followed up on their debate attacks on Trump’s business record, temperament, and proposals they declare to be unrealistic. Rubio called Trump a “con artist” and read aloud from some of Trump’s critical tweets, mocking him for misspellings (“chocker for choker”). Christie’s support equips Trump with a powerful and outspoken surrogate who can match the former reality star’s tart tongue and, like him, can inflame a media narrative critical of his opponents. Trump branded Rubio a “low life,” “a nasty little guy,” a “basket case” and “a choker” who sweated so much he had to put makeup on with a trowel.
Christie has now concluded that Trump will indeed become the GOP’s nominee after three consecutive wins, leaving him well positioned going into Super Tuesday. There is also little to suggest, in Christie’s mind, that any other candidate can stop Trump. New Jersey governor wanted to be a factor in the campaign, and after his evisceration of Rubio in a debate in New Hampshire, he relishes the role of being Trump’s top attack dog.
Christie’s decision came at a time when establishment figures and donors are flocking to Rubio in the apparent belief that he is the only Republican who can stop Trump, who many leaders believe could be a disaster in a general election. Trump and Christie appeared on stage together the day after a tense debate in which the real estate mogul faced off against Rubio and Cruz. Christie and Trump took turns unloading on the freshman Florida senator, who spent the morning insulting the billionaire businessman. Trump has previously said that he would pick a running mate with political experience, and not someone from the private sector like himself.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich had also sought Christie’s support. In a statement to CNN, Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said Friday’s announcement “doesn’t change anything for us. We are still the only adult in the race capable of running the country. Seems like a nightmare for Rubio though.” Christie said his term as New Jersey governor expires on Jan. 19. 2018, and he has “every expectation” of fulfilling it.