NYT: Chris Christie Tests Presidential Waters in Iowa

Image: NYT: Chris Christie Tests Presidential Waters in Iowa

Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 02:08 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is testing the waters of a possible White House run this week with a three-city swing through Iowa.

Christie is venturing out to the Hawkeye State with his credibility and standing among fellow Republicans on more solid ground after the bridge-gate traffic chaos scandal, The New York Times reports.

The journey, plus an upcoming sojourn to New Hampshire on July 31, has been carefully orchestrated to highlight his most acclaimed traits – his endearing larger-than-life personality and his charismatic appeal to everyday people.

The selling of Christie’s candidacy in Iowa is aimed at proving to GOP voters that possible presidential rivals, such as Texas tea party Sen. Ted Cruz and Libertarian Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, cannot compete with his talent for "retail politics."

The governor, in fact, will have the chance to show off his gift of gab in Cedar Rapids, where he will meet and greet Iowa voters, who are known for getting up-close and personal with presidential candidates before making their choices.

However, Christie is still haunted by the embarrassing George Washington Bridge saga, with three investigations hanging over his head. And although his reputation as a bully politician has softened, it could still hurt his presidential aspirations.

Nevertheless, the governor’s aides feel that recent polls and reaction from GOP leaders have shown that Christie is a viable contender for the 2016 election despite the setbacks.

His job approval rating in New Jersey remains at 50 percent, while more voters, 45 percent to 38 percent, give him a favorable rating compared to an unfavorable one, the Times said, noting that other surveys show that primary voters still support a run by Christie.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa voters last month, Republicans liked Christie, while 23 percent were unfavorable.

"People want to give him a chance here," Loras Schulte, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, told the Times.

Christie doesn’t plan to make his decision about running until after the midterm elections. His aides said the Iowa trip, which starts Thursday, is about helping Gov. Terry Branstad in his re-election campaign and not about laying the groundwork for the state’s presidential caucuses.

Branstad, Iowa’s popular five-term Republican governor, said that most people in Iowa don’t care about the bridge-gate scandal.

"Really, most people here have never heard of it and don’t care much about it," he said, adding that Christie "could very much be a contender here."

Christie is expected to speak at three fundraisers in Iowa and attend a cookout for Branstad in Davenport, which is open to the public with low-cost tickets.

In New Hampshire, Christie will attend a minor-league baseball game with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and another public event, the Times reported.

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