By Thomas Madison

In a surprising and valuable endorsement, Chris Christie took the podium yesterday to back Donald Trump for president. This is surprising because Trump and Christie had challenged one another in a combative manner during previous GOP debates not very long ago.

The Donald admitted that he valued Christie’s endorsement as much as any he has received, and rightly so. Chris Christie is an establishment Republican with a ton of clout, which Trump will benefit from greatly. Rather than dwelling in continued isolation, always the outsider, Trump is now picking up important establishment GOP endorsements. With the endorsements of two Republican heavyweights, Chris Christie and Sarah Palin, The Donald continues to score big on his way to the Republican nomination, which is now clearly his to lose. Donald Trump hates losing, and it doesn’t happen often. He calculates every move, and so far all moves have been perfect, demonstrating tremendous vision and leadership.

With a range of endorsements as diverse as Reverend Franklin Graham and NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, Trump is showing extremely broad, if not universal, appeal.

From The New York Times

In a rollicking day of spectacle, spite and scorn, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey declared his allegiance to Donald J. Trump and war on Senator Marco Rubio, describing him Friday as desperate and unfit for the presidency.

The sudden endorsement interrupted an emboldened, 48-hour assault from Mr. Rubio, who is adopting many of the real estate mogul’s crude tactics and colorful insults as he urgently tries to arrest Mr. Trump’s march to the Republican nomination.

In the span of a few hours across the state of Texas, Mr. Rubio suggested that Mr. Trump had urinated in his trousers and used illegal immigrants to tap out his unceasing Twitter messages. Mr. Trump countered by suggesting that Mr. Rubio’s excessive perspiration has no place in the White House and dramatically brandished a water bottle to mock the senator’s chronic thirst.

Waving the bottle across a stage, pouring out half its contents onto the podium onto the floor and then taking giant gulps from it, Mr. Trump ridiculed his younger rival with exaggerated facial gestures. “It’s Rubio!” he shouted to loud applause and cheers.

The escalation arrived four days before the single biggest day of voting in the Republican campaign, on March 1, and amid mounting alarm within the leadership of the party that its rank-and-file voters keep embracing a figure they view as hostile to their values and unworthy of their nomination.

Mr. Rubio seemed to relish his new role as a mischievous and combative saboteur, theatrically reading Mr. Trump’s misspelled online postings in front of an audience in Houston and describing what he said was Mr. Trump’s descent into anxiety-ridden sweatiness backstage in between commercial breaks at their debate Thursday night.

“He was having a meltdown,” Mr. Rubio said, pacing a rafter in what at times felt like a stand-up routine. “He was applying makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches.”

The crowd roared.

Having tried and failed in so many ways to catch fire this campaign season, Mr. Rubio settled on a novel thrust: portraying Mr. Trump as a con man who has tricked Republicans into believing he is an honest business man and a genuine conservative.

“He is pulling the ultimate con job on the American people,” Mr. Rubio said. “It’s time to unmask him for what he is.”

But what Mr. Rubio did not count on was Mr. Christie, a totem of the Northeastern Republican establishment, bolting to Mr. Trump’s side on Friday and delivering the businessman’s biggest endorsement.

In doing so, Mr. Christie openly defied Republican attempts to isolate Mr. Trump as an unsavory party crasher and handed the frontrunner an inexhaustible, media-savvy surrogate who on Friday pledged to travel the country campaigning for Mr. Trump and savaging his rivals.

Mr. Christie wasted little time in pursuing Mr. Rubio, a first-term legislator whom he holds in contempt for stealing his donors, knee-capping his campaign with brutal ads in New Hampshire and repeatedly surpassing him in the polls.

Brushing off Mr. Rubio’s pugnacious turn, Mr. Christie derided it a fake, consultant-driven performance of a “desperate” candidate. “Part of his talking points now is to be entertaining and smile a lot now,” Mr. Christie said. “Listen, it’s one act after another.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump diligently had courted Mr. Christie over the phone and in person over the past few weeks, despite the billionaire’s frequent dismissal of endorsements and the blandishments required to obtain them.

Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, hosted Mr. Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan for several hours on Thursday, according to a person briefed on the encounter. The talks apparently soothed whatever hurt remained from the pungent words the two men have used to describe each other: Mr. Christie has said that Mr. Trump lacks the “temperament” to be president while Mr. Trump has accused Mr. Christie of blessing the scandalous lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that was engineered by the governor’s allies. (Mr. Christie has long denied any knowledge of the scheme, let alone a role in it.)

During a joint appearance in Fort Worth, Mr. Christie described his support as a gesture of loyalty to an old friend and an assessment of who stood the best chance of defeating the Democratic nominee in November.

But Mr. Trump seemed fixated, above all, on Mr. Christie’s talent for bludgeoning opponents like Mr. Rubio, as he did during a Republican debate a few weeks ago, by seizing on his penchant for robotic repetition. “I thought he was gonna die,” Mr. Trump observed, as Mr. Christie stood to his side. “Good going, Chris,” he added.

By Friday night, Mr. Trump had earned the endorsement of another sitting governor, Paul LePage, of Maine, a longtime ally of Mr. Christie.

The timing of the Trump-Christie partnership immediately (and, it seemed, strategically) distracted from a growing liability for Mr. Trump: demands from Republican rivals and leaders that he release his tax returns. Mr. Trump has resisted those calls, saying that an audit by the Internal Revenue Service made it impractical for him to release his returns.

As the scatological schoolyard taunts passed back and forth on Friday, slack-jawed voters struggled to contain their shock.

“I think Emily Post would be totally just turning in her grave right now,” said Tammy Ross 52, after attending a rally for Rubio in Oklahoma City on Friday afternoon. “Anyone can say anything,” she tisk-tisked.

Cable news anchors fumbled for words sufficient to describe what they were hearing.

“Oh. My. God,” declared John Berman of CNN, after hearing Mr. Rubio vivisection of Mr. Trump in Dallas, which included this description of why the developer needed a full-length mirror backstage during the debate. “Maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet. I don’t know,” Mr. Rubio cracked.

“It is on!” declared his startled co-host, Kate Bouldin.

As Mr. Trump and Mr. Rubio exchanged blistering broadsides, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas at times seemed to be an afterthought. Amid the caustic exchanges, Mr. Cruz discussed the finer points of federal water regulations during a taped interview in Nashville and engaged in an online war of words about immigration with Dennis Rodman, the retired basketball star.