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"Christie Has Reached A Ceiling In His Political Career" Says Former White House And Treasury Official, Tony Fratto

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These questions originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.Answers by Tony Fratto, Former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury Deptartment; Partner, Hamilton Place Strategies, on Quora.Q: What's the best guess as to why Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump?

A: First of all, I'm not sure I can get in the head of someone who would endorse Trump. This week Trump also earned endorsements from David Duke and Dennis Rodman. Why Chris Christie would want to be in that company is hard for me to understand. And why Chris Christie would endorse someone who imagines he can build a wall on our southern border ("an make the Mexicans pay for it"), institute a religion test for visitors to the US, someone who mocks the disabled, women, minorities, threatens to sue the press... it's beyond my senses to understand why Chris Christie or anyone else would choose that team. But if I'm guessing, it's that Christie has reached a ceiling in his political career, thinks Trump will win, and is cynical enough to abandon any prior policy views he held for the chance at some opportunity in a Trump Administration.

Since I don't believe there will be a Trump Administration, I think this makes Christie's calculus not merely cynical, but dumb.

Maggie Haberman, an excellent journalist with the New York Times, reported today that Christie was miffed when Senator Rubio called him after he dropped out of the race. According to Maggie's source, Christie didn't like being told "by a 44-year old" that he still has a bright future ahead of him. If this is true, and is the real reason for Christie's decision to endorse, that Chris Christie is willing to support someone as base as Trump because of a personal slight, it deepens the disgrace for Christie.


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Q: How will Chris Christie's decision to endorse Trump impact his future in the Republican Party?

A: Unless Trump wins the election, an event I don't see happening, then Christie's career is clearly finished. It's not just that he supported Trump. It's that just recently he told voters, journalists and others that he would not support Trump. He was vocal and critical of Trump's policy positions, including calling Trump's proposal to ban Muslims and institute a religious test in America "ridiculous". Someone who turns so quickly and easily can't be trusted.

I know many people believe politicians say one thing and do another. My experience is the opposite: politicians actually try to do exactly what they say they want to do. They don't always succeed, and that frustrates their voters. But they try and they generally remain constant in their views. And loyalty and constancy are highly valued in politics. Chris Christie has shown he has no real beliefs.  His interest is Chris Christie. A president, even a President Trump (God forbid), would be crazy to give a job to someone so willing to abandon his beliefs so easily.


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Q: How much pressure is there on Congresspeople who live in districts where Trump is popular to endorse Trump?

A:A few things to consider:

  1. Only about 12 states will likely be in play if this resembles any recent general election.
  2. Not many congressional districts are in play.  Most congressional districts are non-competitive, with each party holding significant registration advantages in their districts.
  3. The seats that ARE in play are more purple (more evenly Dem & Republican), where to win requires more centrist candidates with broad appeal.

With that context, you can see why the overwhelming number of members of Congress will try to avoid endorsing. Members of Congress would rather punt and say that they're focused on their district's needs, and will let voters make up their own minds for president. As Tip O'Neill famously remarked, all politics is local.

I would also add that no smart politician would be smart to tie his political future to a wildcard like Trump. You gain very little, but you don't know what crazy thing he will say or do tomorrow that you'll be forced to defend.

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