Donald Trump is a burning inferno that thrives by sucking the oxygen out of the room. On Friday, he did it again by announcing the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, temporarily stepping on Rubio’s Terminator-like savagery of Trump in Thursday’s debate.
Nothing should shock in a presidential race that has been defined by its surprises, but the image of the bruising governor proudly standing behind the carrot-faced mogul at a press conference in Texas was jarring nonetheless.
“Generally speaking, I’m not big on endorsements,” Trump started, casually dismissive of the kind of establishment support his main competitor Rubio has received. “I could have had quite a few good ones. This was an endorsement that really meant a lot. Chris is an outstanding man with an outstanding family.”
Christie is also a man who has been blamed for allowing Atlantic City’s crime rate to skyrocket as his plan to turn around the casino city tanked. Trump also failed in Atlantic City with his Taj Mahal casino, which filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
According to Christie, the two came to a final decision about the endorsement and its rollout in a meeting Thursday but he had contemplated further involvement in the race when he returned home to New Jersey after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary.
“I concluded along with Mary Pat and the children [to support] the person we thought to provide the best leadership for America and the person who could best make sure that Hillary Clinton never gets within 10 miles of the White House,” Christie said, trading the podium back and forth with Trump like tag-team WWE wrestlers.
“Once we made that decision, it was clear the only choice was Donald Trump. The best choice was Donald Trump. And last thing is our family is one that prides loyalty and the fact is that we have been good friends with Donald and his family for many years.”
Yet Christie sold off his list of donor emails and supporters to Rubio this morning, which was just two weeks after he kneecapped Rubio as a “robot” in the debate before the New Hampshire primary. Even when a Christie confidant was asked recently if a Trump endorsement was in the works, he demurred and said, “You never know.”
Trump and Christie, although a match made in heaven in terms of temperament—both are hulking bullies—have had a rocky relationship in the past.
In August, Christie compared Trump’s campaign to that of much lampooned former presidential candidates Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann.
“You’re telling me it wasn’t this weird when Herman Cain was winning nationally four years ago or Michele Bachman was winning nationally? I mean, this happens,” Christie said at the time.
That same month, Christie said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren that Trump doesn’t have what it takes to be president. “I don’t think his temperament is suited for that and I don’t think his experience is,” he said.
Similarly Trump didn’t used to have nice things to say about the governor. During a visit to New Hampshire in December, Trump ribbed Christie for his Bridgegate scandal, telling a crowd that “the people of New Jersey want to throw him out of office.”
Yet today, the two were thick as thieves, perhaps motivated by the joint hate they share for Rubio, who grasped the media limelight for only a brief moment in the sun after last night’s debate.
“Desperate people do desperate things,” Christie said when asked about Rubio’s attack lines about Trump earlier today, which included the Florida senator suggesting that the real estate mogul had urinated on himself during the debate.
“Turn away from the amateur acts from Washington, D.C., and turn toward a strong leader,” Christie, who hasn’t been involved in vice presidential talks yet, said. “That’s who this is.”
Politics makes for strange bedfellows.