Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia delivered a clear message to the Republican Party Tuesday, declaring human-sized gumboot chiton Donald Trump their preferred candidate for president.
Trump’s one-time rival for the nomination, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, introduced him. “Tonight is the beginning of Donald Trump bringing the Republican Party together for a big victory this November,” Christie said. He bit his lip, looking for a moment like he might change his mind, then went on: “Tonight is the beginning of Donald Trump bringing the people of our nation together to help America win again.”
He went on to list Donald Trump’s favorite Donald Trump qualities: “He has shown himself to be tough and strong and bold. He’s shown himself to be a fighter, a leader who speaks plainly to the American people.” The description was striking for how little it resembled the dangerously unqualified candidate Christie previously spoke of on the campaign trail.
He continued: “He has listened to the American people; the American people are listening to him, and he is bringing the country together. That, ladies and gentleman, is not a campaign — it’s a movement.”
When Trump emerged to take the podium, Christie stood behind him for the duration of his victory speech, with a surprisingly wide range of pained expressions flickering across his face. The Internet took notice: The hashtag #FreeChrisChristie and jokes about the New Jersey governor looking like he was in a hostage video quickly flooded Twitter.
Christie, it’s worth noting, is term-limited, with less than two years left in his career as governor, and he’s wildly unpopular in the state; a recent poll found 59 percent of New Jerseyans disapprove of the job he’s doing — an all-time high — and just 31 percent approve of it.
Hours before he materialized in the ornate Mar-a-Lago ballroom, seven New Jersey papers had called for Christie’s resignation in an editorial, declaring him “an embarrassment” and “an utter disgrace,” and criticizing his refusal to answer questions about his Trump endorsement at a press conference.