New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took on a new role while campaigning Monday with Donald Trump: interviewing his former GOP rival at an event in North Carolina.
He didn’t throw any curveballs, however.
“What you’ve done all around the world, in terms of building great businesses, I think folks are confident that if you become president, you’ll be able to do that same thing for our country,” Christie said, posing his first question to Trump during the event, streamed online from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. “Tell them how you’re going to do it.”
“We built an amazing company, very little debt, tremendous cash flow,” Trump said, calling the nation’s infrastructure “a disaster. We have to build it on time, on budget.”
Another question from Christie: “How would you bring the same kind of principles you’ve brought to building great properties, managing a great company, to our relationships with trade around the world?” (Trump: “We’re bad traders. We have the worst people representing us.”)
Christie returned to a more traditional role – warm-up act – at a second Trump event Monday in Tampa, Fla., where he described his background as U.S. attorney, putting “all kinds of bad guys in jail. We put terrorists in jail, we put corrupt politicians in jail. . We did what needed to be done.”
“I’m convinced that’s exactly the kind of attorney general Donald Trump is going to appoint when he’s president of the United States,” said Christie, who was introduced at the Tampa event by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. (“He and I are together on a stage,” Palin said of Christie, remarking on Trump’s “ability to unify.”)
Later in the event, Trump said, “Chris Christie, what a great friend.”
Christie, who endorsed Trump after dropping out of the presidential race last month, has said that he did not “bargain” with the billionaire businessman for a position in his administration.
The governor interviewed Trump in North Carolina while a funeral was being held Monday in Burlington County, N.J., for Sean Cullen, a state trooper who died last week after he was struck by a car while responding to an accident. The governor’s office said Sunday that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno would attend.
“We did not expect someone who has consistently shown disdain for law enforcement to pay his respects to the Cullen and State Police family,” said Chris Burgos, the president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, which has fought the Christie administration in court over state pension funding.
Christie’s “decision making is predicated on selfish political opportunism,” Burgos said.
Christie had emphasized his support for law enforcement during his presidential campaign. His office did not respond to a request for comment Monday on the governor’s decision to campaign with Trump instead of attending the funeral.
As Trump spoke in North Carolina, Christie periodically nodded and chimed in with “yeps.”
At one point, he addressed Trump: “You’re seen as one of the greatest capitalists in American history.”
Trump, meanwhile, offered a reminder of Christie’s fate in the presidential race. “They say I’ve won every debate,” Trump said. “I think if I didn’t, we wouldn’t be here today. I would have been like the other people: out.”
The two men, seated in armchairs on stage, paused several times as protesters interrupted.
“All right,” Christie said after the first such interruption, which was followed by chants from the crowd of “Build that wall!” and “USA!”
Trump, who canceled an event Friday night in Chicago because of security concerns, said: “You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? I think like, basically none. Other than, I guess, maybe somebody got hit once.”
“The people who are supporters of Donald Trump want to see America be great again. That’s what it is,” said Trump, who last month said he’d “like to punch” a protester at a Las Vegas event.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Trump said he had “instructed my people” to look into paying legal fees for a man who punched a protester at a campaign rally last week in Fayetteville, N.C.
In Hickory on Monday, Trump said: “There is no violence; these are love fests.”