- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Republican presidential primary on Friday, arguing that Christie is best suited to govern in Washington’s highly partisan environment.

Baker, a fellow Republican, said that while he and Christie don’t see eye to eye on every issue, Christie has shown an ability to work across the political aisle.

“We’re big believers that the best way to govern is to be able to work with people you don’t agree with all of the time and to be able to find common ground and pursue an agenda on behalf of all the people,” Baker said.

Baker said that Christie, as a Republican in a “deep blue state,” worked with Democrats after inheriting a budget deficit and other economic and fiscal problems.

“He did a pretty terrific job of working across the aisle with the other party to get a lot of stuff accomplished on behalf of the people of New Jersey, and that’s why we’re endorsing him,” Baker said, standing alongside Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

Baker, who has tried to steer clear of national politics, also expressed concerns about the two top Republican candidates coming out of the Iowa caucuses, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and New York businessman Donald Trump.

He questioned whether Trump has the “temperament and the sense of purpose” needed to govern and said that while Cruz is an articulate and aggressive advocate for his point of view he hasn’t demonstrated an ability to bring others along with him.

Baker said he’s known Christie for about five years.

Baker made a $10,000 donation to New Jersey’s Republican Party in 2011, shortly before that state’s pension fund invested in a venture capital firm with ties to Baker. A New Jersey treasury audit found Baker did not break pay-to-play rules.

During Baker’s 2014 campaign for governor, Christie, then leader of the Republican Governors Association, campaigned for him. The association spent at least $10.5 million on Baker’s campaign through a super political action committee.

Christie also attended Baker’s inaugural, and, when Massachusetts was facing a blizzard just a few weeks into his term, Baker said Christie called to offer tips based on his experience with Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Baker said that while national politics will never be a main focus of his job, he felt he couldn’t sit out the Republican primary given the appeal of Trump and Cruz among some voters.

“I don’t ever want to be in a position where people say, ‘You never had an opinion on something of significance and importance,’” Baker said.

Christie has lagged behind other candidates in recent New Hampshire polls and barely registered in Iowa. Baker said he and Polito will attend a campaign event for Christie in New Hampshire on Saturday.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary is Tuesday.

Trump, stung by his second-place finish behind Cruz in Iowa, has increased his planned events for New Hampshire, visiting with local business owners and offering a pep talk to local police. Cruz has mapped out a path to the White House that depends almost wholly upon maximizing turnout among millions of conservative white voters.

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