, WASHINGTON, United States, Feb 27 – The Republican party’s last-gasp bid to deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination suffered a momentous setback Friday, when the billionaire won the shock endorsement of charismatic conservative grandee Chris Christie.
Christie – a New Jersey governor once seen as White House material himself – jettisoned earlier criticism to describe Trump as best placed to defeat Democrats in the November election and “provide America with the strong leadership that it needs.”
- Christie - a New Jersey governor once seen as White House material himself - jettisoned earlier criticism to describe Trump as best placed to defeat Democrats in the November election.
- "The single most important thing for the party is to nominate the person to give us the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton," said Christie.
“The single most important thing for the party is to nominate the person to give us the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton,” said Christie, who joined Trump on the campaign trail in Florida to pledge his support, two weeks after dropping out of the race himself.
Riding a populist wave that has often veered toward racism and demagoguery, the real estate mogul has won three of the first four statewide nominating contests before next week’s “Super Tuesday,” when 11 more states vote.
The meticulously timed endorsement from Christie – the first from a major Republican figure – immediately dulled a newly-launched assault by the party mainstream aimed at blocking Trump’s path to the White House before it is too late.
During a heated debate Thursday, Trump’s closest rival, Marco Rubio, tore into him for the first time, drawing blood through accusations that he illegally hired foreigners and lived large off his father’s fortune.
Seen by many as the Republican establishment’s best hope in the race, Rubio was joined by Texas Senator Ted Cruz in what seemed to be a concerted effort to weaken Trump, and he doubled down on Friday:
“A con artist is about to take over the Republican Party and the conservative movement and we have to put a stop to him,” the Florida senator warned.