New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Endorse Mitt Romney

BY David Chalian  October 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM EST

One week after ruling out a potential presidential bid, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planned Tuesday to endorse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.

The announcement was expected to come at a 3 p.m. event in Lebanon, N.H., hours before eight GOP hopefuls were scheduled to meet for a debate at Dartmouth College hosted by Bloomberg News and The Washington Post.

Endorsements tend to have very little impact on voters, but Christie’s embrace of Romney so soon after deciding against a run himself will be a widely read signal by donors and some fellow elected officials.

It also will likely help solidify a press narrative that Romney is now attempting to consolidate his front-runner status by being seen as the top choice of the GOP establishment.

A series of recent polls show Romney leading nationally and in the first two nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire, but lagging in support among those who back the Tea Party.

Christie’s reputation as a blunt-talking budget-cutter has won him favor with some in the Tea Party, and could give Romney some political cover with skeptics in the movement.