Why the Kochs Want to Make Chris Christie President
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When Texas Gov. Rick Perry, currently the frontrunner in the Republican presidential nomination contest, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a pilgrimage in June to a Colorado gathering of wealthy right-wing donors convened by billionaires Charles and David Koch, one man clearly impressed the brothers much more than the other.
Introducing Christie, who delivered the keynote address to the Koch Industries gathering, David Koch gushed. "With his enormous success in reforming New Jersey, some day we might see him on a larger stage where, God knows, he is desperately needed," said Koch, according to secretly recorded audio files of the event obtained by Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog.
Yet Christie, foe of teachers and their unions, had made it plain months before in no uncertain terms: he was not running for president. "[S]hort of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running," Christie told a group of reporters in February. "I'm not running."
His protestations aside, a new push for a Christie candidacy by a handful of high-flying Republican political donors -- including Koch, the moneybags behind the Tea Party aligned group, Americans for Prosperity, and countless other right-wing organizations and efforts -- has the political world aflutter at the prospect of the pugilistic former prosecutor on the debate stand. Republican luminaries including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol have suggested Christie enter the presidential contest, and even Karl Rove has publicly mused on that possibility. Further stoking the speculation, Christie last night delivered at the Reagan Library a speech that sounded for all of the world like the rationale for a Christie presidential candidacy.
Recent stumbles by Texas Gov. Rick Perry on the presidential campaign trail have widened the opening for a late entrant into the race for the GOP presidential nomination, a course that former vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, is said to be considering. But the money and momentum for an October surprise candidacy these days is on Christie.
Uniting a small group of big-money donors, dubbed the " Draft Christie Committee" by New York Times reporter Nicholas Confessore, are two things: a hatred for labor unions and a desire for a Republican win in November 2012, something they seem unconvinced that either Perry or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney can deliver.
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There's little doubt that Christie is reconsidering his earlier decision to stay out of the presidential race. "It's real," former N.J. Gov. Thomas Kean told Robert Costa of the National Review Online. "He's giving it a lot of thought. I think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks ago." Kean, says Costa, is an "informal adviser" of Christie's. Yesterday, Christie hit the stump on behalf of Republican candidates -- something he does a lot -- in addition to traveling to California to deliver what was billed as major speech in Simi Valley last night.
When, during the question-and-answer session that followed the speech, an audience member asked Christie if he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, the governor first chided the audience for not getting to the subject until the second question, but refused to say he wasn't running. Instead, he referred his audience to the Politico Web site, where the front page featured a video that strings together clips of his many past denials. (The text under the video reads: "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made it clear he won't run in 2012 — a decision he might be reconsidering.")