Donald Trump’s willing hostages

As Donald Trump speaks on Super Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not look thrilled to be there.
As Donald Trump speaks on Super Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not look thrilled to be there. Associated Press

Before jumping on the Donald Trump bandwagon, prominent Republicans might want to think twice – then think again.

Or they could just look at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose tepid introduction and pained expression at Trump’s press conference Tuesday night launched a Twitter-storm of #FreeChrisChristie mockery.

You could almost feel sorry for Christie, except he made himself a hostage to Trump’s every outrage by endorsing him last week. Ever since, Christie has been Trump’s wingman, including airport rallies on Super Tuesday.

The endorsement is already coming back to bite him.

On Tuesday, six New Jersey newspapers published a joint editorial calling on Christie to resign, saying he was spending too much time outside the state campaigning for Trump, whom he had earlier trashed. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who was national finance co-chairwoman for Christie’s failed presidential bid, blasted Christie for “an astonishing display of political opportunism” by backing a “dishonest demagogue.”

To say those aboard the Trump train are a motley crew would be an understatement.

Some are rank opportunists – think Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and now political celebrity. Others are true believers, including anti-immigrant former Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona. And some are current and former officeholders who have given up the right to call themselves moderates ever again, such as former Sacramento-area Congressman Doug Ose, who had backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

There also are the admirers whom Trump shouldn’t want – hatemongers such as Louis Farrakhan and assorted white supremacists. Then again, Trump failed to immediately and unequivocally disavow former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, so who knows?

That shameful episode forced even Republican leaders in Congress to criticize their front-runner. Some party leaders are warning that a Trump nomination would destroy the GOP and be bad for the nation.

But after Trump’s seven wins on Super Tuesday, it may be too little, too late.

We understand the political calculation to endorse Trump before it’s a done deal, to collect some chips to cash in later.

But we expect many will eventually feel Christie’s pain – and maybe even regret and shame.