New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his endorsement of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump Friday, moments before Trump was scheduled to take the stage at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
"This is the person who will go to Washington, D.C., and be able to absolutely turn the place around," said Christie, who dropped out of the race two weeks ago after the New Hampshire primary, announcing his endorsement.
Christie said Trump is someone who when he makes a promise, he keeps it and that he is the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton in November.
"I’m happy to be on the Trump team," Christie added. When asked if he was offered a position in a Trump White House, Christie sidestepped the question, saying he intends to fulfill his term as governor.
Trump said he was honored to get Christie's endorsement. It came after Rubio, in an abrupt shift cheered by anxious Republicans nationwide, shattered months of relative peace with Trump in Thursday night's GOP debate. It marked the beginning of a long-awaited takedown effort on Trump on the weekend before Super Tuesday.
Rubio continued the verbal assault on Friday, repeatedly called Trump "a con artist" during a series of interviews designed to weaken Trump's tightening grasp on the Republican presidential nomination.
Trump's rally was scheduled to start at noon, but Trump tweeted that he'd make a "big announcement" at 11:30 a.m.
Convention Center Director Kirk Slaughter just found out a week ago that Trump was coming.
"They came for a site visit on Sunday,” he said. “We got the contract hammered out Tuesday evening. So, now here we are."
Slaughter said he expects traffic to be an issue with people arriving around the same time, but doesn’t expect parking to be a problem.
"We had Obama here back in ’08," he said. "It was very, very busy downtown. We expect the same."
The last time Trump was in North Texas in October, he drew 17,000 to the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The place where Trump holds his rally Friday seats 8,000.
Thursday night, Tarrant County Republicans gathered at Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Fort Worth to watch the debate. Among them was Dillan Keck, a TCU sophomore from Frisco, who is about to vote in his first presidential primary. He doesn't know yet who he'll support.
"I probably will end up deciding at the polls on Tuesday,” he said.
He plans to see Trump in person at the convention center.
"I think it's really exciting, though, the amount of young people that you would have never expected to be involved in politics are now suddenly paying attention,” Keck said.