- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie came to the defense of indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, praising his “honesty and integrity.”

Christie, the chair of the Republican Governors Association, released a statement supporting Perry, who was slapped with two felony counts of abuse of power on Friday.

“I have complete faith and confidence in Governor Perry’s honesty and integrity,” Christie said in a statement released through the Association. “And I’m sure that will be confirmed over time.”

Both men are weighing GOP runs for the White House in 2016.

Christie’s administration remains under its own legal cloud. The U.S. attorney for New Jersey is investigating allegations Christie’s staffers shut down access lanes to a busy bridge connecting New Jersey and New York in an apparent act of political payback against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. Christie has not been linked directly to the scheme and has denied knowing about it.

Other potential 2016 GOP rivals also have come to Perry’s defense, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who dismissed the charges in a Twitter message as “a political witch hunt.”

But others are distancing themselves. Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign removed a video endorsement from Perry from its website shortly after the grand jury’s indictment because it did not want it to distract from the campaign.

Perry is accused of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant for carrying out a promise to nix $7.5 million in funding from a public integrity unit. He has dismissed the charges as an “outrageous” political ploy.

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