Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and an early backer of Chris Christie’s presidential campaign, just publicly blasted the New Jersey governor for endorsing Republican front-runner Donald Trump via an email sent to reporters.
Calling Trump a “dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears,” she called Christie’s bombshell endorsement Friday “an astonishing display of political opportunism” and called on Christie’s supporters and donors not to follow him into the Trump camp.
Christie’s endorsement on Friday is being viewed in the circles of the Republican establishment as a major stab in the back by someone once considered one of its brightest stars. Before suspending his campaign, Christie had hammered at Trump, saying a vote for the New York billionaire equated to a vote for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Whitman’s statement is probably the strongest yet by a mainstream Republican against Christie and exposes a growing sense of alarm about Trump winning the nomination. She’s a highly respected Republican operative and fundraiser who was considered a potential vice-presidential running mate by Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.
She backed Christie last July and signed on as his national finance co-chair along with Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, and the hedge fund manager Steve Cohen. She was returning the favor for his support in her unsuccessful run for California governor in 2010. She even hosted Christie at her Atherton, Calif., home for a 2011 fundraiser benefiting his New Jersey Republican State Committee at a time when he was being pressed to contest Romney for the GOP nomination.
Now she’s free to back another candidate — but notably didn’t do that with this statement. Stay tuned for that. There are hints in this New York Times story that a Republican establishment effort to confront and derail the Trump campaign at the GOP convention in Cleveland this July is gaining momentum.
Here’s Whitman’s full statement:
Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism. Donald Trump is unfit to be President. He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly. The Governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the Governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.