FORT WORTH—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally backed Donald Trump’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination, giving his former rival a potentially significant boost in his bid to win over establishment Republicans ahead of next week’s crucial Super Tuesday primaries.
Joining the real estate mogul at a news conference here, Christie praised Trump as a loyal friend and experienced businessman who is the GOP’s best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.
“There is no one better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership it needs,” Christie said, praising Trump as a “clear standout” and “strong, tough leader who will restore America’s greatness.”
The endorsement came after a fiery GOP debate Thursday in which Trump came under withering attack from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who seeking to cast himself as the clear alternative to the GOP frontrunner. On Friday, Rubio continued attacking Trump, calling him a “con artist” who is “wholly unprepared” for the presidency.
But speaking to a packed room of reporters at a local convention center here, Trump and Christie piled on Rubio—Trump mocking him for what he described as his heavy make-up and his propensity to sweat and Christie calling him “desperate.” For Christie, who dropped out of the race after a disappointing sixth place finish in New Hampshire, the pile-on at times seemed personal, as he could barely conceal his disdain for Rubio both here and during his failed presidential campaign.
In Iowa and New Hampshire, Christie slammed Rubio again and again for his inexperience. In a moment that nearly tanked the Florida’s senator’s campaign, Christie went after Rubio in the last debate before the New Hampshire vote, describing him as a robot reliant on talking points.
As Trump recounted the moment in Friday’s press conference, Christie stood over his shoulder, beaming.
“I thought he was going to die!” Trump recalled of Rubio, as Christie sought to suppress a giggle. “He was sweating so badly. I have never seen anything like it!”
He then trashed Rubio as a “nervous nelly” with the “wrong temperament” to be in the White House. “Once a choker, always a choker,” Trump said, as Christie nodded in agreement.
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