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The backlash against Chris Christie

How Chris Christie's hostage face stole the show
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Story highlights

  • Christie's endorsement of Trump drew a slew of irate hometown newspaper editorials
  • Christie pulled out of the presidential race on February 10 after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary

Washington (CNN)Chris Christie is paying a big price for backing Donald Trump.

In the days since the New Jersey governor shocked the political world with his endorsement, six New Jersey newspapers have called for him to resign, his backers have roundly criticized him and his poll numbers have plummeted.
    As Trump swept through Super Tuesday primaries, taking seven states and boasting that he will unify a Republican Party upended by his candidacy, Christie was drawing ridicule for his decision to support the real estate developer-turned-political force.
    Even before his positioning behind Trump during his victory speech spawned the hashtag #FreeChrisChristie, his endorsement spawned a slew of irate hometown newspaper editorials that ran Tuesday.
    "We're fed up with his opportunism, we're fed up with his hypocrisy," wrote six Gannett-owned newspapers, including the Asbury Park Press, the Cherry Hill Courier-Post and the Morristown Daily Record, in a joint editorial asking for Christie to quit or be recalled.
    "We're disgusted with his endorsement of Donald Trump after he spent months on the campaign trail trashing him, calling him unqualified by temperament and experience to be president," they wrote.
    Christie's endorsement was supposed to return him to the national spotlight after he ended his presidential campaign much earlier than he had hoped. But it's instead turned into another embarrassment for a politician who was once a leading Republican at home and across the country.
    A Washington Post opinion writer said that Christie, once beloved as a straight-talker who got things done, had ruined his reputation. The New Hampshire Union-Leader declared that they'd been wrong to endorse him for the GOP presidential nomination. "Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent on his knee," the New Hampshire-based paper wrote.
    And a poll conducted last week showed Christie's support among voters has slid from a lackluster 33% to a limp 27%.
    Christie pulled out of the presidential race on February 10 after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary. But after stepping out of the political ring, Christie endorsed Trump on February 26, declaring him the candidate most likely to beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
    Major political organizers and donors have chastised Christie, with his own national finance co-chair, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, summing it up as "an astonishing display of political opportunism."
    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a fellow Republican, told ABC on Sunday that "none of us understand why he did this."
    Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman told The Newark Star-Ledger that she was "ashamed" Christie would endorse someone who has "employed the kind of hate-mongering and racism that Trump has."
    Christie hasn't done himself any favors, trying to shut down reporters on Monday who wanted to ask questions about Trump's hesitation in disavowing an endorsement from white supremacist leader David Duke.
    "No, I won't permit you to" ask questions about that, Christie said.
    Perhaps the most brutal excoriation has come online.
    News media and viewers alike took note of Christie's slack-jawed quizzical look as he stood behind Trump during the candidate's Super Tuesday speech in Florida.
    An MSNBC tweet said, "caption this: What was on Chris Christie's mind during Trump's #SuperTuesday speech?"
    "The Daily Show" provided one answer, showing a series of screengrabs of Christie's odd expression with subtitles. "What have I done?" one reads. "Dear God. What have I DONE?"
    Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash tweeted his answer: "it's staged to look like a hostage situation." Soon enough, the hashtag #FreeChrisChristie was zinging through cyberspace.