ATLANTA—When Chris Christie threw his support behind Donald Trump, Washington gasped. But the wall of establishment opposition to Trump’s candidacy had begun cracking days before New Jersey’s governor barreled right through it.
From Rep. Duncan Hunter and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who have signaled an openness to working with Trump, to Mike Huckabee’s daughter and adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who officially joined Trump’s campaign this week, Republican officials and operatives are coming to grips with the reality that this anti-establishment hero is now the presumptive GOP nominee.
“Folks are now going through the stages of grief,” said one high-ranking Republican operative. “Some are already at acceptance.”
For Christie, the endorsement was his only path to national relevance after quitting the presidential contest. For Trump, it was much more. Not only did it allow him to change the news cycle after getting roughed up by the establishment’s last hope, Marco Rubio, but it lent credence to Trump’s charge that Washington is full of easily maneuvered politicians.
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