Rutgers reacts to Gov. Chris Christie endorsing Donald Trump
In the same week that he earned the support of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump secured another endorsement on his quest to the Oval Office.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) flew to Texas on Feb. 26 to endorse Trump in his bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee. The outspoken billionaire has won 10 presidential primaries and caucuses to date, including one in New Hampshire, where Christie’s presidential campaign came to an end.
Since pledging his support, the New Jersey governor has continued to vouch for Trump and even introduced him at the Republican front-runner's victory speech on March 1 after Trump racked up seven Super Tuesday wins.
“(Christie) just clearly needs to be in the spotlight,” said Richard Lau, chair of the Department of Political Science. “He’s no longer running for president, so who else is going to be in the spotlight?”
The endorsement could be motivated by the governor’s aspiration to be part of a potential Trump Administration, possibly as attorney general, Lau said.
“I think Christie sincerely believes that Donald Trump is going to win,” he said.
Najum Junaid, political director of the Rutgers University College Republicans and a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, was only slightly surprised by Christie’s decision due to the fact that there are now only a few viable Republican candidates left to endorse.
Since Christie's term as governor ends in 2018, the decision is a fairly intelligent move on his part, Junaid said.
“I think all politicians look beyond their current positions," he said. "That probably could have been a factor in his endorsement."
The move by the governor, who is highly regarded as a moderate Republican and an emblem of the party’s establishment, was unforeseen for some members of the Rutgers community.
“I was very surprised. Trump was the last person I would have expected him to endorse,” said Zach Goldfarb, president of Rutgers for Hillary.
Goldfarb, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, does not see any genuine political bonds between the two politicians. Christie is commonly perceived as a conservative willing to compromise, while Trump is the most outspoken far-right candidate in the race, he said.
The fact that he would put his personal ambitions before the well-being of his party says a lot about Christie, Goldfarb said.
Parth Patel, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, has lived in New Jersey his entire life and is certain that Christie does not accurately represent the people of his state.
Christie cannot genuinely endorse a presidential candidate like Trump, Patel said.
“(Christie) is trying to get famous. He’s trying to get his name out there,” he said. “If you endorse someone, you are saying, 'Hey I agree with this person’s thoughts.'”
Others characterized Christie’s support for Trump as a blatant refusal to acknowledge the ethnic makeup of the state.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, the Garden State is one of the top three most diverse states in the United States in regard to ethnic and foreign born populations. In 2011, 44 percent of the state’s population was made up of racial and ethnic minorities.
Nicholas Quinn, president of Rutgers for Bernie 2016, said Trump’s ideals and political platform are divisive and discriminatory. With this endorsement, the governor is turning his back on his constituents.
“I feel disgusted,” said Quinn, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. “This diverse state has always been welcoming to people, and now (Christie) is supporting a candidate that wants to shun immigrants and shun Muslims.”
Trump is exploiting people’s inner fears and the governor has just validated this method of fear mongering, Quinn said.
Christie, who spent most of his second term running for president, is growing more unpopular in New Jersey.
According to a Feb. 25 poll by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, the governor's approval rating is now at 31 percent among registered New Jersey voters — up 2 points from his all-time-low on Feb. 16.
Ashley Koning, the poll's assistant director, predicts the endorsement will create another drop in the Christie's ratings.
“This is a very diverse state and I think for the most part, people in New Jersey celebrate that,” Lau said. “Trump is just playing to these fears of some subset of the population, but I don’t think there are many of them in New Jersey.”
Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.