Trump’s new ally opens doors to more money
Donald Trump’s endorsement from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opens up a wide network of donors, advisers and prominent elected officials whom the billionaire has not yet been able to attract to his unorthodox bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
As Trump tries to lock up the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday, Christie advisers and supporters told Reuters in interviews that he could bring much-needed financial and strategic backing.
Christie’s backing demonstrates that Trump will be able to bring establishment politicians into the fold, that he could raise the money necessary for a general election campaign and build a staffing operation that can rival a Democratic nominee.
The nod from Christie comes at a critical moment. On Tuesday, 11 states will vote and if Trump is able to win all or most of them, he could pull so far ahead in the competition for delegates that none of his rivals will be able to catch him.
In an interview with Reuters, Christie supporter Finn Wentworth, a real estate investor and former head of the company that owns the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, said he is now seriously considering backing Trump.
“I am a long-time supporter of Governor Christie. In that process, I have learned to respect his opinion and his judgment,” Wentworth said. “He’s a results-oriented person, and frankly I am now looking at Donald Trump because of Governor Christie’s endorsement today.”
Maine Governor Paul LePage, who had backed Christie initially, quickly followed in the New Jersey governor’s footsteps and got behind Trump – making him the second sitting governor to endorse the New York real estate mogul. Maine votes on March 5.
A senior Christie aide told Reuters he believes staff could move to the Trump campaign in the coming weeks, helping the Republican front-runner in his fledgling efforts to build a circle of advisers who could form the core of his general election campaign should he clinch the nomination.
Wentworth said part of his decision-making process is that he is now convinced it is inevitable that Trump will clinch the Republican nomination.
Dale Florio, a donor to Christie, said he, along with others, has a call scheduled with the New Jersey governor later on Friday. “If he says, I’d like you guys to support Donald Trump, I’ll be there for him,” Florio said.
Trump has thus far avoided traditional fundraising. However, more than half of his campaign spending in 2015 was covered by money raised through the sale of his “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts, even though he told his supporters not to write donation checks. But as a nominee, that position may be impossible to stick to, especially if Clinton is the Democratic nominee and she is able to build a sizable arsenal.