Trump, Christie join forces against Rubio

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE and new ally Chris Christie took turns hammering Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE on Friday after the New Jersey governor’s stunning endorsement of the GOP presidential front-runner.

Christie and Trump surprised the political world with their joint announcement and then immediately dove into a full-throated rebuke of Rubio, whose campaign had been riding a wave of momentum thanks to attacks on Trump during a debate the night before.

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“President of the United States is not a no-show job like you treated the United States Senate,” Christie said of Rubio, whom he repeatedly mocked during his own failed presidential campaign.

Trump then expanded the routine to include both criticism and physical comedy, dramatically pulling a water bottle from under the podium and pouring it out to mock the Florida senator.

“It’s Rubio,” he said to cheers from his supporters.

It was an unmistakable reference to Rubio’s penchant for water breaks while speaking, something immortalized in his oft-mocked GOP response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address.

The partnership between Trump and Christie joins the GOP front-runner with the politician who inflicted the most serious wounds so far on Rubio’s presidential bid.

Christie’s mocking of Rubio as an overly scripted candidate at a GOP debate days before the New Hampshire primary foreshadowed a disappointing fifth-place showing in the state for Rubio.

It wasn’t enough to save Christie, who dropped out of the race days later. But by reinserting himself in the presidential race at a moment where Rubio appeared to be gaining momentum after a solid debate performance, the New Jersey governor showed he’s not through being a source of trouble for his former rival.

“I’ve been on that stage. I’ve gotten to know all the people on that stage. And there is no one better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs both at home and around the world than Donald Trump,” Christie said of his new ally.

The endorsement pushed Rubio out of the spotlight and delivered Trump his highest-profile endorsement of the cycle.

Rubio had followed up his attacks on Trump in the debate with blistering criticisms on Friday that even included a reference to pants-wetting. 

“He called me Mr. Meltdown. Let me tell you something, last night during two of the debates, he went backstage, he was having a meltdown,” Rubio said during the morning rally in Dallas. 

“First, he had this little makeup thing applying makeup around his mustache because he had one of those sweat mustaches. Then, he asked for a full-length mirror ... maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”

When asked an hour after Trump’s rally whether he’d support Trump if he becomes the nominee, Rubio said it wouldn’t happen.

“The Republican Party would be split apart if he became the nominee," he told reporters in Oklahoma. "We cannot allow the party of Reagan to be taken over by a con man."

Christie’s move reverberated throughout the GOP. It was met with harsh criticism — and fat jokes — by former staffers of Jeb Bush, who ended his presidential candidacy on Saturday.

“New lesson kids: sometimes, the best option for the fat kid is to just hand his lunch money over to the bully!” former Bush chief strategist David Kochel tweeted after the news broke. 

Tim Miller, Bush’s campaign spokesman, went on Twitter to pan Christie as “the biggest phony of them all.”

“Like Trump, Chris Christie is a pathetic, corrupt man with a tiny ego. I'm sure they bonded discussing their insecurities over a big meal,” he added.

The decision drew a sharply worded critique from Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, who quickly penned a rebuke of “Christie’s despicable endorsement.”

Other GOP figures described the endorsement as a big move coming ahead of Super Tuesday next week, when Trump seems poised to increase his delegate lead.

“This is a huge step for Trump and will impact Super Tuesday [big] time,” 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Twitter. 

“This Chris Christie endorsement of Trump is real signal to GOP establishment that they had better begin thinking about Trump as the future.”