Since making a surprise hostage video-inspired endorsement of Donald Trump earlier this month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has faced a torrent of criticism from bewildered constituents and Republican lawmakers. Yet, Christie has soldiered on, immediately returning to the campaign trail Monday on behalf of Trump following his weeklong vacation, even as he faced increased backlash for skipping out on the funeral of a New Jersey police officer to do so.
I'm "back to work," Christie assured his New Jersey constituents from a Trump rally in North Carolina on Monday, dismissing widespread criticism from New Jersey media outlets who feared that he planned to continue ignoring his gubernatorial duties to become a full-time Trump surrogate. While Christie held a Trump town hall in Hickory, North Carolina, he sent his lieutenant governor to attend the funeral of 31-year-old Sean Cullen, a New Jersey state trooper who died last week after being hit by a passing vehicle while responding to a car fire.
At the next campaign stop in Vienna, Ohio, Trump repaid Christie for the loyalty.
“Your governor is absentee,” Trump said, taking a swipe at the fairly popular Republican Gov. John Kasich ahead of Tuesday's Ohio primary.
“I know, ’cause I was there. But I go back and I still work, you know. I have a job, right?" Trump continued. "So, your Gov. Kasich, if you look at him — and I’m being totally impartial — he goes to New Hampshire, he’s living in New Hampshire.”
Trump then paused to look around for his surrogate. “Where’s Chris? Is Chris around?”
“Even more than Chris Christie, he was there!” Trump joked, delivering the punch line that he was searching for.
After the applause began to die down, Trump added, "I hated to do that, but I had to make my point," with a wink and a shrug.
Watch Trump use Christie as his punch line: