New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talks to businessman Donald Trump during a commercial break in the midst of the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 campaign in Cleveland on Aug. 6. Christie endorsed Trump on Feb. 26, saying his former rival for the White House has the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Chris Christie is getting savaged for becoming the first major national Republican figure to endorse Donald Trump.

As I wrote shortly after he gave the endorsement Friday, the New Jersey governor's public comments about Trump when he was still a presidential candidate contradict most of what he says about the man now. Former Christie finance co-chair Meg Whitman denounced Christie's "astonishing display of political opportunism." Our own Chris Cillizza looked at Christie's "excruciatingly bad" interview Sunday defending the endorsement.

But let's give Christie this: It wasn't an easy thing to do. Maybe it was attempted political opportunism to try to curry favor with Trump and earn a position in his Cabinet -- or as his vice president. But it wasn't an easy call.

And that's doubly true when your name is Chris Christie.

This is the guy, after all, who some still blame for Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat after Christie praised President Obama's "outstanding" response to Hurricane Sandy on the eve of that election.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio expressed disappointment in his performance in the New Hampshire primary after polls closed. "It's on me," he said, citing his poor performance at the last GOP debate. (Reuters)

This is the guy, after all, who knee-capped the emerging establishment favorite, Marco Rubio, ahead of the New Hampshire primary -- just as it looked as though Rubio might be gaining steam -- by berating him for awkwardly repeating talking points at a Republican debate. The episode did nothing to help Christie, but it sure seemed to damage Rubio.

This is the guy whose approval rating with Republicans was more unfavorable than favorable for much of the 2016 campaign -- endorsing a guy who also has divided Republicans.


And now, this is the guy whose endorsement serves to validate Trump's status as the likely Republican nominee. Endorsements perhaps mean less than we think, but this one was real. It was also a complete surprise -- one that apparently caught just about everyone in the GOP establishment off guard.

That's a recipe for lots and lots of resentment, and Christie is on the receiving end of plenty of pointed words three days after his big endorsement. That could pale in comparison, though, to the possibility of Trump earning the nomination and then crashing and burning in the general election -- something that, let's face it, a large swath of political analysts believe is quite likely at this point.

Should that happen, the blame Christie took for Romney's loss could could seem like getting off easy compared to the blame he'd get for contributing to a second straight Republican presidential loss.

Political opportunism is doing something that clearly makes sense at a given point in time, no matter your existing principles. But I wouldn't be so quick to assume that this was a good call for Christie's political brand. He just stuck his neck out -- again -- and he could pay the price.