May 15, 2016
Ever since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stepped out first among Republican leaders to endorse Donald Trump, albeit awkwardly, the possibility of him stepping into the role of running mate has been a persistent theme.
Trump, who's said he hasn't ruled out the idea, last week picked Christie to head up his transition team to lead in a new administration should he be elected president in November. Christie responded with a swipe at his critics.
"How did I go from being an idiot 68 days ago to prescient 68 days later?" Christie asked.
At this point, Trump says he's narrowed the playing field down to "five or six people" who all have extensive backgrounds in politics. The list includes former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Arizona governor Jan Brewer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, though Trump (speaking like a weatherman) says there's about a 40 percent chance he'll pick one of his former debate rivals.
Offering a conjecture as to what goes on behind closed doors, "Saturday Night Live" put Trump and Christie in a room together to discuss the issue of selecting a running mate. Initially, Trump appears to be on the phone pretending he's his own publicist, a claim resurfaced by The Washington Post and denied by Trump despite a previous acknowledgement in 1990. Then Christie enters, armed with a bunch of head shots of people he thinks belong on the Trump ticket.
When Christie first endorsed Trump, he said his plan was to enter the private sector at the conclusion of his term as governor and that nothing would change his mind about it. Now, since he's already taking on the transition responsibility, an opportunity to serve as vice president may be too much for him to turn down, should it present itself. In an April appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," Christie made clear that his endorsement of Trump came after careful consideration and that he's not being held hostage by the real estate mogul.
GOP leaders including John F. Lehman, who led the abortive transition team role for John McCain in 2008, have already questioned whether Christie will be able to uphold his duties as governor if he's working "12 or 14 hours a day" for Trump. Christie has also increasingly attempted to distance himself from President Obama, declining to attend a commencement speech at Rutgers University on Sunday in favor of his son's baseball game in Princeton.
With an approval rating bottoming out at just 26 percent in New Jersey and the remnants of Bridgegate bubbling back up, Christie may be inclined to move on from his current post if Trump deems him the best person to help deliver a win in November.
But if Trump's earlier comments hold, it will still be another two months before he makes his selection at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland from July 18-21.