Chris Christie Gets Another Audition for the Trump Ticket

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey offered a glimpse of just what he might bring to the Republican ticket as Donald J. Trump’s running mate, presenting himself as a law and order executive in an appearance with Mr. Trump in Virginia Beach.

Speaking for nearly eight minutes before Mr. Trump gave his own remarks, Mr. Christie joined the growing list of Republicans — including both Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and Newt Gingrich last week — to appear alongside Mr. Trump as he works to select his No. 2 in a public auditioning evocative of his reality television show, “The Apprentice.”

After the racially charged tragedies that have roiled the nation — the assassination of five Dallas police officers by a sniper and the killing of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota — Mr. Christie spoke forcefully about “safety and security” as the two greatest issues facing the country.

“We need a president who once again will put law and order at the top of the priority of the presidency of this country,” Mr. Christie said. “We need once again to have a president who puts the safety and security of our citizens first and does not blink or hesitate to take the strong action that needs to be taken to make sure that those both at home and around the world know that lawlessness will not be tolerated from anyone.”

Though Mr. Christie in recent days has seemed increasingly unlikely to emerge as Mr. Trump’s running mate, the campaign has been considering each contender’s performance — and the subsequent media coverage — as it makes its decision.

Last week, Mr. Corker failed to excite the crowd, speaking for less than three minutes as voters clamored for Mr. Trump. (The senator took himself out of vice-presidential contention the next morning.) The next day, Mr. Gingrich helped energize both a packed Cincinnati rally and Mr. Trump, who went on to deliver a defiant, rambling speech in which he excoriated the media and defended an image resembling the Star of David, which many viewed as anti-Semitic, that his campaign had posted on Twitter.

Mr. Christie’s remarks Monday provided some discipline to a campaign that has seemed to struggle with the flood of racially polarizing news over the last week, as Mr. Trump’s own remarks in Virginia echoed those of the New Jersey governor, a former United States attorney.

Speaking after Mr. Christie, Mr. Trump called himself “the law and order candidate.”

“Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is weak, ineffective, pandering and, as proven by her recent email scandal — which was an embarrassment not only to her, but to the entire nation as a whole — she’s either a liar or grossly incompetent,” Mr. Trump said about the presumptive Democratic nominee.

 Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana is seen by Trump advisers as a safe choice for the Republican vice-presidential slot. CreditDarron Cummings/Associated Press

“Personally, it’s probably both,” he added.

Mr. Trump also used his speech Monday to outline his 10-step plan to provide what he described as quality, timely care for military veterans. He promised to increase the number of mental health workers available to veterans and to provide veterans with more treatment options, either through the Department of Veterans Affairs or through the private sector, paid for by the government.

With Mr. Christie’s performance on Monday appearing like a last-chance audition for the vice-presidential slot, Mr. Trump was set to appear on Tuesday with another, more likely contender: Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, a conservative former congressman who has risen quickly in the estimation of the Trump campaign.

Republicans in Washington were initially skeptical that Mr. Pence, a former talk radio host, would sign on as Mr. Trump’s running mate. He has repeatedly flirted with bids for higher office, including president and speaker of the House, enjoying the attention he gets but never taking the plunge.

Yet Mr. Pence, who endorsed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in the Republican primary campaign, has steadily grown more interested in the vice presidency in recent days, according to Republicans who have been in touch with the governor and his aides.

After initially describing a planned meeting with Mr. Trump as a pro forma exercise, Mr. Pence told a number of associates afterward that he would be inclined to accept the second spot on the ticket if it was offered.

Mr. Pence’s vice-presidential aspirations have developed to the point where Republicans have begun preparing for his departure from the Indiana governorship. Joining Mr. Trump’s ticket would prompt Mr. Pence to abandon his campaign for re-election, potentially leaving state Republicans without a nominee for governor less than four months before the election.

The Republican Governors Association, which has already spent money on television commercials for Mr. Pence, has been drawing up contingency plans in the event he withdraws from the race, according to people familiar with the committee’s preparations. Officials with the group have been in touch with several candidates who could replace Mr. Pence on the ballot, including Eric Holcomb, the lieutenant governor, and Brian C. Bosma, the speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.

Mr. Trump’s advisers see Mr. Pence as a decidedly safe choice — a disciplined public communicator with ties to Washington.

A staunch conservative who has been vocal about his Christian faith, Mr. Pence might help Mr. Trump allay concerns on the right about his views on cultural issues like gay rights and abortion.

But Mr. Pence could also prove divisive in ways that even Mr. Trump has not been. As governor, he signed new restrictions on abortion and put Indiana at the forefront of the national debate over gay rights when he signed a measure described by proponents as a religious freedom law, although critics said the measure would make it easier for religious conservatives to refuse service to same-sex couples.

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