By Jeremy Diamond and Tom LoBianco

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered a surprise endorsement to Donald Trump, saying there is no one better prepared to lead the country in the Republican 2016 race.

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“I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States,” the New Jersey Republican told reporters at a press conference in Texas.

“The best person to beat Hillary Clinton on that state last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Christie added.

Trump and Christie appeared on stage together the day after a rough debate performance where the real estate mogul faced off against Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

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“Generally speaking I’m not big on endorsements,” Trump said, adding, “This was an endorsement that really meant a lot.”

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Christie, in the waning days of his own presidential campaign, had specifically targeted Rubio as not qualified for the office.

 

Richard Harris is chair of the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden. He says the endorsement was a surprise, but a brilliant strategy by Trump.

“This is just another uncanny move on the part of Donald Trump. He comes out of a debate, he keeps this endorsement under wraps. And instead of Cruz and Rubio enjoying the afterglow of the debate, we’re all talking about Donald Trump and we’re talking about an endorsement,” said Harris.

Harris says it completely flips the script for the other candidates. He says this move also feeds the notion that Trump is on a roll. He also says Christie admires Trump as a man who makes decisions and gets the job done.

KYW’s Kim Glovas contributed to this report.

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