Despite heated clashes during the primary campaign, the two are now working together to promote Trump’s candidacy.
“I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States,” Christie said. “The best person to beat Hillary Clinton on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump.”
Christie argued that Trump is perplexing not only his Republican rivals but also to his Democratic opponents.
“They do not know the playbook with Donald Trump because he is rewriting the Playbook,” Christie said.
In a statement, Trump called Christie “a solid person” and said it was his “great honor to receive the endorsement of the Governor.”
Christie, in the statement, called Trump “a successful person that, like me, isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.”
Christie’s backing of Trump, rumors of which circulated fiercely in Republican circles over the last several days, marks the media mogul’s first high-profile endorsement. Its timing, coming one day after Rubio surprised observers by going on the offensive against Trump, could represent an attempt to shift the narrative back to one that favors the New York businessman.
“If [Trump] builds the wall the same way he built Trump tower, he’ll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it,” Rubio said, referring to a 1990 incident in which Trump paid $1 million in fines for using undocumented Polish workers build Trump Tower.
Rubio hit Trump again and again for allegedly and hypocritically using cheap foreign labor, for his multiple corporate bankruptcy filings, for the “fake school” of Trump University, and for the multi-million-dollar inheritance that kickstarted Trump’s career.
Christie’s well-timed endorsement could make him a leading contender for a senior law-enforcement post in a Trump administration, such as attorney general.
Despite a lack of mainstream endorsements compared to his rivals, Trump recently won the Republican Nevada primary, cementing his status as the primary campaign’s frontrunner. His only remaining serious challengers are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Trump polls ahead of both of them in three states—Georgia, Vermont, and Massachusetts—that vote on Super Tuesday, March 1.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has been stepping up his criticism of Trump in recent days. Based on his increased involvement, he could endorse Rubio in the near future, potentially shifting the narrative in favor of the Florida senator. But based on all the polls, Rubio will still face an uphill climb to unseat Trump.
Although he dropped out of the race on Feb. 10, Christie left a significant mark on the contest by fiercely attacking Rubio in their last debate together. Christie mocked Rubio for reiterating the same line about President Obama three times, and the perception of Rubio as robotic continued to dog the young senator in the following weeks.
Update 12:10pm CT, Feb. 26: Added context.
Update 12:30pm CT, Feb. 26: Replaced art and added more context.