New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday blasted Rick Perry for his refusal to distance himself from the pastor who questioned Mitt Romney’s Christian credentials.
“Any campaign that associates itself with that type of conduct is beneath the office of president of the United States,” Christie said as reporters questioned him following his endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Romney, appearing with Christie for the endorsement announcement, also attacked the Texas governor over the remarks of Pastor Robert Jeffress. The Baptist pastor introduced Perry at the weekend’s Voters Value Summit by saying that Romney, as a Mormon, is not Christian and is “part of a cult.”
“Gov. Perry selected an individual to introduce him who then used religion as a basis for which he would endorse Gov. Perry and a reason to not support me. Gov. Perry then said that introduction just hit it out of the park,” Romney said.
“I just don’t believe that that kind of divisiveness based upon religion has a place in this country,” Romney said.
The discussion of the pastor’s remarks overshadowed Christie’s endorsement, made in New Hampshire, where Romney and Perry would share the stage with other Republican presidential candidates at a debate at Dartmouth College late in the day.
In his endorsement speech, Christie praised Romney for his experience in executive office. “He is not a legislator trying to find how to use executive power, but an executive who has used executive power and will use it to make American lives better,” he said.
The biggest differences between Romney and President Barack Obama are their visions for America, Christie said.
“The president of the United States has unleashed his campaign strategy already,” Christie said. “It is to divide America, to tell Americans who are not doing well right now, who are scared, that the pie of America is only so big and if you want more you have to take it from others.
“Mitt Romney believes that the American pie can be grown bigger, that it can be an infinite size because of the infinite nature of American ingenuity and effort and character.”
Christie said the election is going to be a question of optimism vs. division, and voters “want someone who believes America’s future can be greater, not someone who is trying to divide an ever-shrinking pie among the American people.”
He said of his choice of Romney, “It’s been, in the end, an easy decision for me. I know that America needs a new course and I wanted to be with the person who I believe will be the best person to lead America on that course — and that’s Gov. Mitt Romney.”
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