The news Friday afternoon that Chris Christie had endorsed Republican Party pariah Donald Trump was, to many observers, about as improbable as an announcement that Ted Cruz was found to be the Zodiac Killer.
“Our system is broken and it won’t be fixed from the inside. I am proud to offer my endorsement of [Trump’s] candidacy for President,” Christie said in a statement, just before the pair appeared side-by-side on TV, announcing their alliance. This was really happening.
After “Huh?” the next question on most minds was, “What did Trump promise him?” According to reporters who cover the New Jersey governor, it’s more likely that Christie — who was previously a federal prosecutor — is angling for an appointment as attorney general than for a shot at being Trump’s VP pick, as some quickly speculated.
Maybe Trump really is as good at making deals as he professes to be.
If the smart money is right and Christie isn’t a pick for veep, who else might Trump be hatching plans with? One possibility is Ben Carson — who helps Trump the longer he stays in the race, siphoning votes away from Trump’s more serious rival Ted Cruz . Carson has said he would be open to running as Trump’s number two.
The key difference between these two frankly fringe characters and Christie is that Christie is exactly the kind of mainstream Republican Trump has said he’s looking to add to his team in order to bolster his appeal. Asked about this topic earlier this week, Trump suggested he would choose an experienced politician as his running mate. “I do want somebody that’s political, because I want to get lots of great legislation we all want passed,” he told a crowd at Regent University. “I’d want someone who could help me with governing.”
Christie was the first of such figures to endorse Trump, but he won’t be the last; the same observers who predicted the New Jersey governor would endorse Trump said Christie acted quickly for maximum impact — i.e. before other high-profile Republican endorsements start rolling in.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott might fit that same bill: He has five years of executive experience and a business background similar to Trump’s. Scott, who has so far declined to officially endorse a candidate, penned an encouraging USA Today op-ed about Trump’s bid in January, headlined “Donald Trump has America’s pulse.” He demurred when asked earlier this week if he would consider the position.
Back to that Regent University Q&A though — there was one other thing Trump said that could hint at the person he has in mind.
“I’m also very, very political,” he said. “When you can get zoning on the west side of Manhattan to build almost 6,000 units of housing, and you have to go through New York City politics, believe me, that’s tough.” He later added, “Some of the people I’ve dealt with, I do have a lot of respect for.”
He was referring to Riverside South, a $3 billion, 56-acre development that he initially started working on in 1974, but it didn’t really get into motion until two decades later, when Rudy Giuliani took office. By 2001, when Giuliani was on his way out, the project was nearly completed, and the mayor was hailing Trump’s contribution to the “dramatic” transformation of the west-side waterfront. Giuliani and Trump remain close to this day — they attended each other’s weddings, and are said to talk frequently on the phone.