The Republican Party would be better served if GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney were left to focus on defeating the president rather than on upcoming primaries, Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday.
But Christie, a surrogate for Romney who has made numerous campaign appearances for the former Massachusetts governor, made clear that his opinion does not mean he is advocating other Republican candidates – specifically former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Romney’s chief rival at the moment – drop from the race.
“I think we’d all be better served by having (the primary) over and allowing Gov. Romney to focus his attention and his critique and his plans on contrasting himself with the President of the United States,” he said. “But I don’t want that to be interpreted as me trying to push Sen. Santorum out of the race. My view as governor of New Jersey sitting here in Trenton is I got no business telling Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul that after they’ve spent a year or two years or more of their life running for President of the United States that from the cheap seats here in Trenton I can tell them to get out.”
Christie said he hopes that each candidate will consider what is best for the party and for the country when deciding whether to continue their bid for the GOP nomination.
“I suspect that given the type of men they appear to be and that I know Sen. Santorum is, that that will certainly be one of the factors they will consider,” he said.
Christie called Romney’s double digit win in Illinois a “substantial victory.”
“I think you are starting to see him pull away,” he said.
As he has done in the past, Christie criticized the nominating process adopted by the Republican National Committee, which awards delegates proportionally based on vote count rather than in a winner take all fashion.
Christie has said the method drags out the nomination and keeps candidates tied up battling each other rather than focusing on taking on the President. He said the RNC has further dragged out the process by penalizing states for holding early primaries, citing Florida, which was penalized half its delegates for holding an early primary.
“Mitt Romney would have twice as many delegates from Florida off of his win if they had not penalized Florida,” he said.
Regardless of the process, Christie said, he believes Romney will win the nomination.
“In the end I’m convinced I’m going to be in Tampa in August watching Mitt Romney accept the nomination from our party for president,” he said.