“Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America.”––Chris Christie in a speech earlier this year
Seven months ago, Chris Christie launched his presidential campaign promising straight talk. His announcement featured the proud slogan, “Telling it like it is.” During his candidacy, he repeatedly criticized Donald Trump, declaring on at least one occasion that his temperament and experience are unsuited for the White House.
“Showtime is over,” he said in January. “We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America.”
ABC News notes other critiques leveled by the New Jersey governor:
“He has not the first idea of how to run a government, not the first idea,” Christie said of Trump on Feb. 7 in Hampton, New Hampshire, when he urged voters to “get off the Trump train before it’s too late.”
As a candidate, Christie ridiculed the Republican frontrunner for having a “make-believe” campaign that amounted to little more than reality TV and sought to remind voters that they aren’t electing an “entertainer-in-chief.”
“The guy who’s running first in the polls. You know it’s all make believe, right?” Christie said days ahead of the New Hampshire primary. “It’s just not real. It’s all for TV.”
“Being president is also nothing like being in a fake boardroom in Manhattan and looking across the room and saying, ‘You’re fired,’” Christie told a town hall in the days before the Iowa Caucuses.
Now Christie has endorsed Donald Trump at the very moment when doing so appears to be the best option for advancing his own political prospects. As Josh Barro observed:
The incentive to get in with Trump is EVEN STRONGER than with a normal presumptive nominee. Most nominees have an entourage already: Senate staff, state house aides, large campaign staff, longtime political allies. When you endorse a normal candidate, you’re getting in line behind all those people for jobs. With Trump, you’re at the front of the line. Chris Christie has made himself, instantly and by a large margin, Trump’s most important ally. No endorser can do that with Rubio.
It’s hard to know whether Christie’s bygone attacks on Trump, or his more recent extravagant praise of the candidate, did more to mislead the public about his core beliefs (if he actually has any). But his attempt to square his past statements with his present position on This Week with George Stephanopolous confirms that his words then and now cannot be credibly reconciled.