Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will appear with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at his final rally before the Iowa Caucuses Sunday night in West Des Moines, the campaign said, providing a final boost to Christie before the first ballots are cast.
The appearance, in which Branstad introduce Christie, is not an official endorsement, according to Christie's campaign. But it is expected to nonetheless signal Branstad's preference in the race, much like Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst's appearance with Sen. Marco Rubio last week gave a signal to her supporters.
The ties between Christie and Branstad run deep. Christie's Iowa campaign is filled with veterans of Branstad's 2010 and 2014 Iowa races, and Christie deployed the resources of the Republican Governors Association to help Branstad in his re-election. Christie also stumped for Branstad in Iowa and attended several fundraisers during both campaigns.
Christie frequently touts his ties to Branstad on the campaign trial. "Team Branstad is with Team Christie and that's a good thing," he said at an event Friday.
Branstad has long said he would not formally endorse in the race, preferring to welcome all candidates to the state, but earlier this month he came out against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's candidacy.
Late last year, Christie shifted his campaign focus to Iowa, seeing an opportunity to beat Jeb Bush in the state, saying his expectation is to place first among governors in the state, hoping it will provide him a boost of momentum going into New Hampshire.
Christie, the former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is betting on governors like Branstad, and their political networks, to provide him a boost nationwide in states where he lacks larger organizations.