Christie Faces Calls to Quit, Approval Drop After Backing Trumpby
Newspapers say he has lost moral standing to run New Jersey
`We’re fed up with Gov. Chris Christie’s arrogance.'
The backlash over Governor Chris Christie’s endorsement of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump intensified as his already-low voter approval declined and six New Jersey newspapers called for him to resign.
His backing of Trump led some former donors and allies, including his onetime campaign chairwoman, to renounce him. On Monday, New Hampshire’s Union Leader and Massachusetts’s Boston Herald both expressed regret for having supported Christie’s failed presidential run.
Christie, who introduced Trump at his Super Tuesday victory speech in Florida and then stood behind the real-estate investor as he spoke at length, was mocked on social media for his facial expressions. Twenty-seven percent of registered voters polled after Christie’s Feb. 26 endorsement of Trump said they approved of his job performance, compared with 33 percent before, according to a poll released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.
“Joining forces with Donald Trump was hardly a vehicle for getting voters to reconsider their sour mood toward the Governor,” said Krista Jenkins, a political science professor at the university and director of PublicMind.
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, said the governor wouldn’t comment on the calls for him to quit or on his poll numbers.
Christie dropped out of the race Feb. 10 after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary. The governor, who spent more than half his days out of state last year as he campaigned, returned to New Jersey.
During his Feb. 16 state budget address, Christie thanked the people of New Jersey for allowing him to run for president and said he would tackle the state’s fiscal challenges; it is short on cash for pensions and transportation. He proposed a record $1.86 billion pension contribution and implored Democrats who control the legislature to work with him on spending cuts in his remaining 23 months.
Ten days later, Christie stunned some supporters with his endorsement of Trump in Texas, saying the reality-TV billionaire is the candidate most likely to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
On the campaign trail, Christie had criticized Trump’s call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, his lack of a plan for Social Security and his views on Muslims as a security threat. On Sunday, Christie struggled to explain to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Trump’s policies and his newfound support for them.
‘Bent His Knee’
“Boy, were we wrong,” Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, wrote on Monday. “Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support.”
On Monday, during Christie’s first press conference in the New Jersey Statehouse since abandoning his presidential bid, the governor refused to answer any questions about his Trump endorsement. That was a departure for Christie, whose press briefings typically last more than an hour as he responds to various topics. He was out of state Tuesday, campaigning for Trump.
Christie has said his travels haven’t altered his performance as governor. During his budget speech, he cited accomplishments including 230,000 private-sector jobs created, lower unemployment, balanced budgets, investments in colleges and infrastructure, criminal justice reform and record spending on education.
“The governor always has balanced out-of-state political activity with his duties as governor,” Roberts said in an e-mail. “That will remain the case moving forward.”
Six Gannett Co.-owned newspapers, including the Asbury Park Press, said in editorials on Tuesday that New Jersey “needs someone whose full attention is devoted to making life better for New Jersey’s citizens.”
“We’re fed up with Gov. Chris Christie’s arrogance," the papers wrote. "We’re fed up with his opportunism. We’re fed up with his hypocrisy. We’re fed up with his sarcasm.”
“For the good of the state, it’s time for Christie to do his long-neglected constituents a favor and resign as governor,” the papers continued. “If he refuses, citizens should initiate a recall effort."