WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former White House contender Chris Christie formally backed Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination on Friday (Feb 26), becoming the first major party figure to endorse the billionaire.
"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," said the New Jersey governor, speaking alongside the real estate mogul in Fort Worth, Texas.
Christie pulled out of the White House race two weeks ago, after a dismal showing in the nomination contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he finished 10th and sixth, respectively.
He said he was backing the 69-year-old Trump as the party’s best hope of winning back the presidency from the Democrats come November.
“The single most important thing for the party is to nominate the person to give us the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton,” he said. “The best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November... is undoubtedly Donald Trump.”
“And so, I am thrilled to be here this morning. To lend my support,” he said.
“I will lend my support between now and November every way that I can for Donald to make the campaign an even better campaign than it’s already been and do what he needs to do to help to make the country everything we want it to be for our children and grandchildren.”
The 53-year-old Christie, a former federal prosecutor, is a moderate Republican running a largely Democratic state and was once seen as one of the party’s best hopes in 2016.
His endorsement of Trump – an outsider whose brash, provocative style of politics has upended the Republican race – marks a potential turning point in the campaign