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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his surprise endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after suspending his own presidential campaign on Feb 10. | Courtesy of Flickr/Gage Skidmore

As if the 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump needed extra momentum ahead of Super Tuesday — the biggest day of voting in the Republican primary campaign — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially endorsed the real estate mogul on Friday.

The endorsement came as yet another surprise in a Republican primary that has been defined by unexpected front-runners rocking the party establishment’s hold over the GOP nomination.

“Especially given the staunch change in stance, I think it is highly likely that he is doing so to look for a nod somewhere in Trump’s potential administration,” College sophomore Zack DiGregorio, who is from Princeton, N.J., said. “I didn’t like Christie before this, but from my perspective, it just seems like a political power grab.”

Department of English faculty member and writer-in-residence Dick Polman, a journalist who has covered presidential elections since 1988, agreed that Christie may have had an ulterior motive to endorse Trump, given the previous attacks the New Jersey governor had launched at Trump.

Christie — who suspended his presidential campaign on Feb. 10 after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary — had previously disagreed with many of Trump’s policy stances and consistently mocked his legitimacy as a candidate.

“Christie had a long record of questioning and criticizing Trump’s credentials,” Polman said. “He had said repeatedly, starting about six or seven months ago on the New Jersey boardwalk, that Trump had no credentials to be president.”

In December, Christie taunted Trump by telling an Iowa audience that, “We don’t need reality TV in the Oval Office,” according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Certain political pundits speculate that Christie’s endorsement represents the second-term governor’s final attempt at remaining politically relevant after exiting the race and ending his governorship.

“What he is interested in now? Could be attorney general, could be vice president,” Polman said. “In the short run he gets to stay in the game. Now he gets a platform and gets to go around the country to attack [Sen. Marco] Rubio and attack [Sen. Ted] Cruz to gain attention. This was purely an opportunistic play on his part.”

Penn College Republicans Chief of Staff and Wharton freshman Owen O’Hare described Christie’s decision as “a surprise for the establishment” and noted that College Republicans would not speculate whether Christie’s endorsement carried any ulterior political motives.

O’Hare, speaking on behalf of College Republicans, pointed out the contrast between Trump’s “vague policies” and Christie’s own proposals to highlight how Christie’s decision might have been based more heavily on the the similar rhetorical style both politicians share. He noted “that Christie is choosing style over substance.”

While Rubio, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all outmatch Trump in the amount of endorsements from senators, representatives and governors, Christie’s endorsement on Friday sparked a series of other political endorsements for the Penn graduate.

In the last week, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), and Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) have all officially endorsed Trump.

“Presidential candidates often have people who jump on their bandwagon because they want something out of it. Trump had a very small bandwagon. Now they are starting to pile up,” Polman said. “It was a very small line, so Christie was able to jump to the front of the line as the first prominent endorser.”

“[Christie] has gone from alpha dog to lap dog,” Polman added.

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