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May 09, 2011

Big Time Iowa GOP Donors: Help Us Chris Christie, You're Our Only Hope

A couple of big time GOP donors from Iowa traveled to Jersey to either beg or encourage Chris Christie to run.

Some of Iowa's top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.

Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor's chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor's mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31.

The meeting speaks to what some Republicans nationally say is a lack of enthusiasm about the emerging roster of contenders. It's also unusual because candidates typically court Iowans, who get the first say in presidential nominating contests, and not the other way around.

Christie, who was elected in 2009 and has drawn national attention for his tough talk and battles with Democrats, has explicitly and repeatedly rejected the idea of running for the White House. Yet that hasn't deterred these Iowans.

Yes, I know the litany of RINOriffic offense Christie has either committed or been accused of but I think if getting our economic house in order Christie is the best hope for that (short of Mike Pence or Paul Ryan).

What I like about Christie is that he is combative enough to get people fired up but he's also comfortable dealing in policy specifics. His track record is shorter than I'd like but he's clearly not afraid to tackle the big fiscal issues. If you didn't see his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, take a look and you'll see what I mean. For all his combativeness and taking on the entrenched Democratic establishment in a very blue state, he's still above 50% approval.

Right now the field as constructed is heavy on people who can really energize small segments of the party (Santorum, Paul and yes, Herman Cain) or are likely to be viewed as "serious" candidates but don't get too many people really excited (Romney, Pawlenty and maybe Daniels). I'd put Palin in Huckabee in another group...at this point they are polarizing figures that have more support than the first group but face a challenge in growing beyond their current support. Christie may turn out to be part of this third group but opinion on Christie isn't as set in stone as it is for Palin and Huckabee who are far more well known at this point.

On the other hand, we kept waiting for a savior in 2008 and he never came (well, teh Fred showed up but it was more like a drop in for a visit than anything). At some point the field is the field and we have to accept that the our candidate is going to come from the people we know are running or admit to being open to a run.

Elections with an incumbent President are always a referendum on the previous 4 years. On that score, Obama is in big trouble. To beat an incumbent though you have to nominate a candidate that excites the opposition's base while at the same time seeming a plausible and reasonably safe alternative to swing voters. It's a fine line to walk. At this still early point, looking at the field as it is, I'm not sure who bridges both sides of that equation.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:41 AM

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