Mr. Rubio showed a lack of finesse in dealing with his fallen rivals’ injured egos.
Mr. Christie had attacked Mr. Rubio contemptuously in New Hampshire, calling him shallow and scripted, and humiliating him in a debate. Nevertheless, Mr. Rubio made a tentative overture to Mr. Christie after his withdrawal from the presidential race. He left the governor a voice mail message, seeking Mr. Christie’s support and assuring him that he had a bright future in public service, according to people who have heard Mr. Christie’s characterization of the message.
Mr. Christie, 53, took the message as deeply disrespectful and patronizing, questioning why “a 44-year-old” was telling him about his future, said people who described his reaction on the condition of anonymity. Further efforts to connect the two never yielded a direct conversation.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, made frequent calls to Mr. Christie once he dropped out, a person close to the governor said. After the two met at Trump Tower on Thursday with their wives, Mr. Christie flew to Texas and emerged on Friday to back Mr. Trump and mock Mr. Rubio as a desperate candidate near the end of a losing campaign.