New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Friday, giving the billionaire businessman a high-profile boost just days before Super Tuesday.
“The best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Mr. Christie, a former 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said at an event in Texas with Mr. Trump.
“Donald Trump is someone who when he makes a promise, he keeps it,” Mr. Christie said. “I’ve experienced that over my friendship with him, and what the American people and our allies around the world are going to understand is that Donald Trump is someone who keeps his word, and that means America will keep its word again.”
Mr. Christie’s support came the day after Mr. Trump drew pointed debate jabs from remaining rivals Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
“To me, it’s a very big endorsement,” Mr. Trump said. “This was an endorsement that really meant a lot. … This is the one endorsement I felt very strongly about that I wanted to get.”
Mr. Christie dropped out of the race earlier this month after a disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire. He had famously criticized Mr. Rubio for falling back on repetitive talking points in the GOP debate held right before the New Hampshire primary.
Mr. Trump said Friday that he thought at the time that Mr. Rubio was going to “die.”
“Once a choker, always a choker, and that was one of the epic meltdowns,” Mr. Trump said. “He didn’t know where he was. I thought he was going to die. Good going, Chris.”
Beginning at Thursday night’s debate and continuing into Friday, Mr. Rubio has started assailing Mr. Trump over his business record, getting more aggressive with his attacks after Mr. Trump racked up wins in three consecutive states.
Mr. Christie said Friday it was just an act.
“He’s obviously gone now and part of his talking points are to try to be entertaining and smile a lot,” Mr. Christie said. “Listen, it’s one act after another. We don’t need any more of these Washington, D.C., acts.”
Hogan Gidley, who served as a spokesman to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, called the Christie endorsement a “big get for Donald Trump.”
“It makes sense that he would go with someone like Trump because he has executive experience and Christie is known for shaking things up,” Mr. Gidley said. “I think it is a good match for them.
“Also, he has no love for Marco Rubio,” he added. “It is not an arbitrary dislike. It is a dislike based on Sen. Rubio’s limited accomplishments.”
Mr. Christie is the first big-name politician to endorse Mr. Trump. Buffalo-area Rep. Chris Collins voiced support this week, only after his preferred candidate, Jeb Bush, dropped out.
Mr. Trump continued his attacks against Mr. Rubio at a rally in Fort Worth, celebrating the way Mr. Christie took Mr. Rubio “apart” and saying Mr. Rubio was sweating so much before Thursday’s debate that he was “putting makeup on with a trowel.”
He also repeated a shout from someone in the audience.
“I don’t want to say that,” Mr. Trump said. “I will not say that he was trying to cover up his ears. I will not say that. He was just trying to cover up the sweat.”