Ken Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder and influential Christie donor, and Tom Kean, the former New Jersey governor and longtime Christie mentor, remain bullish on his political future. In interviews with National Review Online, both men say Christie remains a leading contender for the Republican nomination.

“If the governor can expand Medicaid without disrupting his budget and without raising taxes, then I don’t have a problem,” Langone says. “To the critics, I say, ‘give me a break.’ If conservatives are going to criticize him for doing what’s right for his state, then we’re on our way to becoming a minority party.”