When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attempted to knee-cap Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign at a mid-January New Hampshire presidential debate, it didn’t make much sense.
Christie struggled during his entire presidential campaign to gain traction in a crowded GOP field. But instead of pulling out all the stops against frontrunner Donald Trump that night, Christie instead set his sights on blasting Rubio, who averaged being down against Trump by 15 or so points down the New Hampshire primary homestretch.
With the governor’s “surprise” endorsement of Donald Trump last Friday, the cloudy picture became a little clearer. Christie was helping out a longtime friend officially.
But the aftermath of his enthusiastic proclamation of support for the Trump campaign has been quite brutal and embarrassing for Christie, so much so that his legendary reputation as political rebel may ultimately be downgraded by historians as mirroring a “rebel without a clue.” Here, in no particular order, are five examples.
1. The governor who is often described by political opponents as a bully got dismissed by a bigger one.
Just seconds after Christie threw his hat into the ring for Trump, The Donald dismissed him from the rally like a King would a loyal yet lowly servant:
Christie: Thank you baby.
Trump: Get on the plane and go home.
Christie: Got it.
Trump: It's over there, go home.https://t.co/Bsywm2Da6U
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) February 28, 2016
2. The Christie campaign’s own finance co-chair blistered his endorsement in a statement.
“Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism. Donald Trump is unfit to be President. He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly.
The Governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the Governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.” – Meg Whitman
3. As it turns out, Christie himself struggles explaining why he endorsed Trump.
In a Sunday interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the normally well-prepared Christie was grilled on his then-versus-now statements on Trump – who he feuded with just weeks before his endorsement – and stumbled to explain them away. Worse still was the governor’s response to media inquiries about Trump the following day at a presser on his nomination for the New Jersey Supreme Court. In short: “Permission denied.”
As a result of that awful presser, six New Jersey papers issued a joint editorial calling on Christie to resign. Ouch.
4. The New Hampshire Union Leader revoked their endorsement of Christie.
Watching Christie kiss the Donald’s ring this weekend — and make excuses for the man Christie himself had said was unfit for the presidency — demonstrated how wrong we were. Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support.
5. The media has dutifully reminded America of Christie’s (former) arguments against Donald Trump.
“He has not the first idea of how to run a government, not the first idea,” Christie said of Trump on Feb. 7 in Hampton, New Hampshire, when he urged voters to “get off the Trump train before it’s too late.”
As a candidate, Christie ridiculed the Republican frontrunner for having a “make-believe” campaign that amounted to little more than reality TV and sought to remind voters that they aren’t electing an “entertainer-in-chief.”
Perhaps in sort of a Don Vito Corleone kinda way, Christie – whose political star is fading – expects something in return, like a nomination for Attorney General, should Trump get elected. Or maybe even a veep nod. Or maybe Christie is being blackmailed by Trump, as intriguing footage of him looking around nervously from Trump’s Super Tuesday victory presser implies:
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) March 2, 2016
Whatever the case may be, one quote of the governor’s from his Trump stump speech last week inadvertently reveals more about Christie than all the rest:
“Desperate people do desperate things.”
Indeed, governor. Indeed.