Gov. Christie Endorses Romney Hours Before Debate

If you were Mitt Romney who would you consider the single most top-tier candidate in the Republican field that threatens your primary race?  The only two other top contenders are Herman Cain and Rick Perry.  Even though Cain is surging in the polls I do not believe Romney is too concerned by him.  Cain has even stated he’d be ok with being Romney’s VP.  But at the end of the day Romney’s organizational and financial strength is in much better shape than Cain’s.  Rick Perry is a different story though.  He has raised $17 million from a vast pool of donors in only 49 days and he has the the organization and strong political resources available to him.  While Perry may not be enjoying the honeymoon poll numbers he did a few weeks ago he is hardly out of the game.  Remember, John McCain was written off in 2007, but somehow he managed to claw his way back into the race and ultimately win the nomination.

So again, if you are Romney who is your biggest threat to winning the Republican nomination?  Right now it’s undoubtedly Rick Perry.  The sooner Perry is out of the race the better it is for Romney.  The debate tonight is a perfect chance from Romney to take more of the air out of Perry’s balloon.  But, maybe by playing a trump card early Romney can deflate Perry’s changes completely.  That trump card is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Christie has been a sound bite darling of conservatives since he turned New Jersey red in 2010.  His his bold tongue combined with an honest, straight-talk approach has made him popular with conservatives that are looking for a true leader to fix the problems in Washington.  The problem for those people is that Christie is not running.  The next best thing Christie can do then is endorse one of the Republican candidates, lending his reputation and resources to their campaign.  It appears that Romney is the lucky guy.

Moments after a hotel ballroom’s audio system finished blaring Orleans’ “Still the One” and Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ambled to a podium to endorse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.

“I could not have been more happy,” Romney said, to learn that Christie would be endorsing his campaign. “I’m delighted to have him here today.”

Christie was quick to frame the campaign as one between Romney and Barack Obama, seemingly to leapfroging the other primary candidates. “America cannot survive another four years of Barack Obama,” he said. “Mitt Romney is the man America needs, and America needs him now.”

“He brings that great private sector experience and he brings experience as governor of Massachusetts — knowing how government works.”

Obama “has unleashed his campaign strategy already,” Christie added, “and that is to divide America.” But Americans, he insisted, “want to believe in American optimism instead of American division.”

“It’s been really, in the end, an easy decision for me.”

Christie’s choice shouldn’t be too surprising.  While he may get lots of political points from conservatives for having the backbone to stand up against public unions and liberals in New Jersey he is far from being an ideal conservative.  But then again so is Romney.  That is why I italicized lucky earlier.  Do “two RINOs make a right?”  It will be a tough sell for the hardline conservatives, especially with news coming out about how some of Romney’s advisers on RomneyCare were used to blueprint ObamaCare.  Yikes!

The big question is will Christie’s support be enough for Romney to edge out Perry?  The timing of the announcement seems to dictate that Romney is betting on that.  I guess you could argue that he wants to dilute the media coverage of ObamneyCare with the announcement.  Either way tonight is a big night for Perry since he didn’t do well in the other debates.  If he doesn’t do well again tonight and Romney keeps up his strong stage presence then it could be what propels him towards the finish line.  Cain isn’t worried about the feud though.  As he stated in an interview earlier today, “I’m going after Romney.”  I welcome that!