TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Anyone worried that Republican Gov. Chris Christie was being held hostage by Donald Trump as he stood, seemingly shell-shocked, behind the GOP presidential front-runner on Super Tuesday can rest easy.
“No, I wasn’t being held hostage. No, I wasn’t sitting up there thinking, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done?’” Christie said Thursday back home in New Jersey. “I don’t know what I was supposed to be doing. All these armchair psychiatrists should give it a break.”
He said his expression was stoic because he was listening as Trump spoke - not because he was being held there against his will, as online commenters had joked.
“I stood where they asked me to stand. What do I care? Do you think I really care? … I really don’t,” he said. “Next week there will be an Internet freakout about something else.”
Christie, who ended his own presidential campaign last month, said he won’t heed calls from a handful of newspapers to resign and will continue helping Trump’s campaign after an endorsement that shocked many. He defended the endorsement as two former Republican presidential nominees - including Mitt Romney on Thursday - and 70 national security experts warned that Trump was unfit to be commander in chief, citing his fiery rhetoric and his “embrace of the expansive use of torture.”
Christie’s news conference in Trenton lasted nearly two hours and was part a campaign debriefing, part an attempt to refocus on priorities in the state. It came after nearly a week of criticism over his Trump endorsement and as his job approval ratings in the state fell.
Christie, in the final two years of his second term, faces a pileup of issues at home, including how to pay for road and bridge work and a debt-laden public pension. He faces an adversarial Democrat-led Legislature that has added to its ranks since Christie launched his presidential campaign.
“I’m going to do my job,” he said. “The people of New Jersey will see it and react to it, and I’ll do better.”
Christie said he will continue helping Trump’s campaign but doesn’t have any appearances scheduled. Christie added that his 30th wedding anniversary is next week, but he is otherwise focused on state priorities, including a budget due in June.
The two largest newspaper companies in New Jersey have called on Christie to resign. The Star-Ledger, which endorsed Christie in his 2013 re-election campaign, said in an editorial Thursday that he has since made it clear that governing the state is a “distant second priority” that comes behind his personal ambition. Six newspapers published by Gannett also called for his resignation.
Christie said he isn’t surprised by the newspapers’ stance because they haven’t supported him in the past. He said they’re merely trying to find a way to stay relevant as their readerships decline.
“The only way to do that is to set themselves on fire,” Christie said.
Christie, who spent all or part of 261 days out of the state in 2015, also chided the media for counting time he spent either in Philadelphia or New York as somehow not related to state business.
He said the Trump campaign financed his recent trips, but state taxpayers, as they always do, will be on the hook for the New Jersey State Police detail required to travel with him.
Christie said he believes Trump would make the best president out of the remaining candidates and has the best chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
He said he doesn’t agree with Trump on everything, though he wasn’t specific. He said he plans to finish out his term and then go into the private sector.
He did shoot down one question Thursday. When a reporter asked if he would resign if he were Trump’s pick for vice president, he replied, “Next!”
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