Baker doesn’t think he’ll endorse again in presidential race

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STATE HOUSE — With his chosen candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie out of the presidential race, Gov. Charlie Baker doesn’t think he will endorse again before the Massachusetts primary in less than a month.

Baker, in a telephone interview Wednesday evening, said he had been “very impressed” with Christie’s campaign despite the blunt-talking governor’s disappointing sixth place finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary that ultimately drove him from the race a day later.

“In politics, voters make the call, but I’m a big fan of the governor’s and I’m sorry his voice won’t be part of the conversation going forward,” Baker said.

After staying out of the fray of presidential politics for months, Baker last Friday publicly endorsed Christie and expressed deep concerns about the capabilities of the two Republican frontrunners coming out of Iowa. Christie, much like Baker, had a track record of being able to work across party lines to find solutions for the people of his state, Baker said.

Baker traveled to Bedford, New Hampshire on Saturday to stump with Christie, but even the presence of the popular border-state governor of Massachusetts couldn’t infuse the struggling Christie campaign with the momentum it needed for a finish in New Hampshire strong enough to carry Christie into South Carolina.

Christie called Baker on Wednesday after suspending his presidential campaign to thank him for his support, and Baker said the two talked a bit about what happened, but not about who or if Christie would endorse another candidate before the next primaries.

Baker said he doesn’t think he could have made a difference had he endorsed earlier in the process.

“If you look at the general terrain with respect to endorsements overall, it’s pretty hard to make a case that endorsements mattered very much for anyone from anybody. The outsider factor was more important than almost anything,” Baker said.

While Baker might have been late to the New Hampshire primary when he arrived on Saturday, many high-profile Massachusetts Democrats, including Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, have been door-knocking and organizing for Hillary Clinton for months and could not stop the drubbing the former secretary of state took Tuesday from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“My sense of what happened last night is that it’s pretty clear the New Hampshire electorate was interested in sending a message about outsiders. Even though Sen. Sanders has been in public life for his whole career, he’s still seen as an outside voice, and there’s no question that Donald Trump is seen the same way,” Baker said. “I think it has to do with general dissatisfaction with Washington, which I share in many cases.”

While Baker may empathize with New Hampshire voters and their frustrations with Washington D.C., he still doesn’t share their trust in Trump, who now rolls into the South Carolina primary with a head of steam coming off a second-place finish in Iowa and a resounding New Hampshire victory.

“I have concerns about Donald Trump. I think his temperament and seriousness about all this are troubling and they concern me, but the voters get to make the call,” he said.

Baker said he hasn’t thought about who he will vote for now that Christie is out of the race, but will most likely go back to staying out of national politics. Massachusetts voters go to the polls on March 1.

“I’m going to focus on my job,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a second endorsement.”

— Written by Matt Murphy

Copyright State House News Service