Published June 01, 2011
Usually, it's political candidates that court Iowans.
On Tuesday, it was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who was courted as a group of top Iowa Republican campaign contributors tried to persuade him to change his mind and run against President Barack Obama in 2012.
But after trekking all the way to New Jersey, the donors and party loyalists heard the same response from Christie that countless others have heard: Thanks for asking, but no thanks.
Christie, his wife and top political advisers, met with the group for more than two hours on Tuesday at the governor's mansion in Princeton.
After dining on beef, chicken and, as an homage to the visitors, corn, Iowa energy company executive Bruce Rastetter -- the force behind the meeting -- told Christie that the group thinks the 2012 field so far has not captivated activists they way the tough talking first-term governor has and that it was Christie's duty to reconsider.
Rastetter, who helped recruit Terry Branstad to seek the governorship in Iowa last year, said Christie had the profile, demeanor and agenda to rally Republicans next year, according to several people who attended the dinner.
Christie asked about the political climate in Iowa and the caucus process, but reiterated that he would not be a candidate for president next year. Among the reasons, Christie told Rastetter that a run for the Oval Office is not something he and his family, with four children ranging from elementary school to high school, have begun contemplating.
"Those reasons are the commitment he made to New Jersey, the fact of how large a decision like this is in terms of his readiness and how hard it is to be running for president when you are governing a state and you have young children," said Christie's chief political adviser Mike DuHaime.
"I did not hear anything from Gov. Christie that I have not heard before," added Christie's longtime friend, Bill Palatucci.
However, Christie said that he would accept an invitation to speak at an education conference hosted in Iowa by Branstad in July. Branstad, who has expressed how impressed he was when Christie headlined a campaign fundraiser in Iowa last October, invited New Jersey's governor in May to the conference, scheduled for July 25-26 in Des Moines.
Rastetter met Christie at a Branstad fundraiser in Iowa last fall.