Philadelphia (CBS) – I have often said that my friend Ted Christian is one of the reasons Donald Trump won Pennsylvania and therefore became the 45th President of the United States. While many people helped turn Pennsylvania from blue to red for the first time since 1988, Ted was the State Director and climbed aboard the Trump campaign early in the fall of 2015. He and his wife Michelle are dear friends of mine and I remember thinking, when Ted told me he was considering joining the campaign, what an enormous task he was undertaking. What I didn’t know at the time, and just learned recently, was that he did it all while battling cancer.
Anyone who has ever worked on a statewide campaign understands the grueling nature of the job, long days that turn into long nights, weekends spent crisscrossing the state from rally to campaign event with only a slice of cold pizza to get you through the day. The stress of poll numbers must have made if feel like an act of futility, but he fought through to the end.
Now imagine that stress while keeping secret your diagnosis of prostrate cancer.
As 2015 turned to 2016, Ted aided the campaign during the ballot access and delegate recruitment process. He was there when the campaign scored two big Pennsylvania endorsements from Congressmen Tom Marino and Lou Barletta. He went on to run the Trump campaign’s Delegate races in the primary and was soon named State Director as his attention turned to the Republican National Convention, where he would serve as the Chief Whip of the Delegation.
It was around this time that Ted was given very grim news. The disease had been more aggressive than originally anticipated. His doctors strongly advised surgery to remove his prostate.
The timing could not have been worse. Surgery would require a substantial recovery period which would basically take him out of commission during one of the most critical times in the campaign. But would the disease progress if he put off the surgery? Till when? November?
Ted really opened up about this during the interview when I asked him how he had to weigh decide his campaign responsibilities with being a husband and father of two young boys.
“It was actually a blessing to be as busy as we were in 2016 while going through everything. There was certainly no shortage of busy on the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania.”
I don’t know if Ted thought Trump would win. The polls said he wouldn’t but Ted was always a true believer. Many people were certainly surprised but there was little time to relish the victory. There were still issues surrounding a pending recount in Pennsylvania, the Electoral College, the presidential transition and, finally, the Inaugural, but the surgery could not wait any longer.
Ted snuck into the hospital the week of Thanksgiving and had his prostate removed before retreating home to Bucks County to recover.
Looking back at the last year, Christian is now able to revel in the journey of fighting his illness and playing a key role in winning the White House.
“I’m healthy and Donald Trump is President of the United States. Despite the roadblocks, I’d call that a pretty big accomplishment.”
Listen to my entire interview with Ted here.