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Donald Trump Raises Funds To Pay Off Christie Campaign Debts

May 20, 2016
Originally published on May 23, 2016 7:50 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie dropped out of the GOP race in February, he quickly endorsed Donald Trump. Last night, Trump returned the favor by raising money to pay off the Christie campaign's debt. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The event was in an old National Guard Armory. Christie took the stage first, joined by his wife, Mary Pat, and three of their four children. The governor thanked the crowd. Adults paid $200 to get in and students $25. But he kept the focus on the main attraction.

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CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think we're all ready to see the next president of the United States, aren't we?

GONYEA: Christie praised Donald Trump's leadership, which he said is needed in these times. He had this to say about Trump's record in business.

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CHRISTIE: He has brought greatness to every enterprise he has ever led.

GONYEA: Though that ignores some nearby local history, the troubled Trump Casinos in Atlantic City. And Christie defended his surprise decision to endorse Trump three months ago.

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CHRISTIE: We've been friends with Donald Trump for 14 years. We know him well. And I said to Mary Pat, we never ever make a mistake by standing with your friend. And Donald Trump is my friend.

GONYEA: Trump actually held two fundraisers for Christie yesterday. The first was private. It was the second one that was open to reporters. That's where Trump opened with this bit of bravado.

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DONALD TRUMP: So, you know, Chris paid off his entire campaign debt tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Right? - His entire debt. And Chris, you can't even give them a table and a seat. That's terrible.

GONYEA: Trump then worked through familiar elements of his stump speech - building the wall and negotiating trade deals where America wins and how he'll punish companies that move jobs overseas.

TRUMP: When Carrier and Ford and Nabisco leaving Chicago with their big plant - they're moving to Mexico. I'm not eating Oreos anymore, you know that. But neither is Chris. You're not eating Oreos anymore. No more Oreos for either of us, Chris. Don't feel bad - for either of us.

GONYEA: But that teasing disappeared when Trump turned to the topic of the tragic EgyptAir plane crash.

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TRUMP: So today we had a terrible tragedy.

GONYEA: Trump was actually reacting to a statement by Hillary Clinton. He says she wrongly refuses to use the term radical Islamic terrorism. Early in the day, when the very first report surfaced and all that was known was that the plane was missing, Trump did label it terrorism in a tweet, which went on to state quote, "when will we get tough, smart and vigilant?" That set off a storm of criticism of Trump for jumping the gun.

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TRUMP: And I'm saying to myself, what just happened about 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky. And if anything - if anybody thinks it wasn't blow out of the sky, you're 100 percent wrong, folks, OK? You're 100 percent wrong.

GONYEA: The cause is still not determined. The incident is an ongoing tragedy, as Trump described it, but also an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate just how different a Trump presidency would be. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.