In a somewhat surprising development, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) endorsed Donald Trump for president on Friday.
“There is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump,” Christie said at a news conference. “He is, looking at the five people on that stage last night [at the GOP debate], the clear standout, and the person who will do exactly what needs to be done to make America a leader around the world again.”
About five years ago, Christie made news for vehemently defending his decision to appoint a Muslim judge, Sohail Mohammed, to a state bench. Mohammed defended Muslims who were wrongly accused in the wake of the September 11 attacks, which some conservatives suggested made him an unqualified candidate.
Christie made clear he was “disgusted” by the “ignorance behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammed.” At an August 2011 news conference, he said:
They are criticizing him because he is a Muslim American…I was disgusted, candidly, by some of the questions he was asked by both parties at the Senate judiciary committee…Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all — it’s crazy! It’s crazy. The guy’s an American citizen…This Sharia Law business is crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies. It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.
Watch the video:
Christie’s comments are inconsistent with Trump’s much-publicized proposal to ban Muslims from the United States, a proposal he’s highlighted at campaign events that have featured violence and in at least one instance the ejection of a Muslim woman for no good reason.
But both Trump and Christie have a history of moving from relatively moderate positions to positions further right on the political spectrum. For instance, Christie once supported an assault weapons ban, but now says he supports making it easier for people to own and carry guns. Trump’s views on guns have evolved in a very similar direction.
Both Christie and Trump went from being pro-choice to opposing abortion rights. Both were for Planned Parenthood before they were against it. (Trump acknowledges Planned Parenthood does “some very good work” but says as president he supports defunding the organization so long as they provide abortion services.)
During his presidential campaign, Christie abandoned his support for a pathway to citizenship — a view that obviously aligns with Trump’s harsh rhetoric about immigrants. Both he and Trump have said they aren’t concerned about climate change.
Christie’s endorsement of Trump comes about seven months after the governor downplayed the significance of Trump’s campaign, telling Fox and Friends that “nobody in the real world” cared about Trump’s immigration comments.
In the same interview, however, Christie acknowledged he and Trump are longtime friends — a theme he returned to today.
“He has been a good and loyal friend to our family,” Christie, referring to Trump, said during today’s newser.