“This is stuff that you just can’t be involved in,” Chris Christie said this morning in his first public remarks about Donald Trump’s “grab her by the p****” tape, ” and shouldn’t even be thinking.” Christie, working as a guest host on WFAN’s Boomer & Carton show, said he wouldn’t defend those comments, and in fact had challenged Trump on Friday to apologize. Christie “urged him to be contrite and apologetic,” he said, “because that’s what he needs to be” (via The Hill):

Christie didn’t sound quite satisfied with Trump’s apology, either initially or at the debate on Sunday:

Christie, a top Trump adviser, also said he would have apologized differently.

“I would have focused on making sure people understood that he was sorry for what he did 11 years ago.”

Christie might have been disappointed in the apology and disgusted by the comments, but he’s not going anywhere when it comes to the presidential race. Why should he? Of all people, Christie has had the longest-enduring ringside seat to the Trump phenomenon, and has the least credibility in claiming shock, shock at his vulgarities. He’s taking the path that makes the most sense, at least for him — to refuse to defend the comments, but staying the course otherwise.

That’s the advice that Newt Gingrich is giving to other Republicans four weeks out from Election Day, too. He makes the argument that they really don’t have much choice now, anyway:

“My only advice to Republican leaders is simple. In the end, you either help defeat Hillary Clinton or you help elect Hillary Clinton,” he said. …

“I think to sit on your hands, to find some pretense because Donald Trump is not pure enough, so you’re willing to have Hillary Clinton get elected, is an enormous disservice to the future of the country and to the future of our children and grandchildren,” he added.

Gingrich, who ran for president in 2012, said Republicans should “relax and slow down for a minute.”

“You don’t have to run around and defend Donald Trump. That’s his job,” he said. “You also don’t have to abandon him. There is no alternative at a practical level. He is the nominee.”

Exactly. Short of his own decision to withdraw, there’s no rational alternative to Trump for those who want to prevent Democrats from holding the White House. There’s also no real way for Republican leaders to walk back earlier endorsements without looking foolish. That doesn’t mean they have to campaign for him, but they can do what Christie does here and let that stand. It’s only another four weeks until it’s over. How bad can it get? Er … maybe we don’t want to ask that question …