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Christie Team Assessing How Fast A 2012 Campaign Could Be Mounted

Chris Christie’s political advisers are working to determine whether they could move fast enough to set up effective political operations in Iowa and New Hampshire in the wake of a relentless courtship aimed at persuading Mr. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, to plunge into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to operatives briefed on the preparations.

Mr. Christie has not yet decided whether to run and has not authorized the start of a full-fledged campaign operation. But with the governor now seriously considering getting in, his strategists — many of them veterans of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign — are internally assessing the financial and logistical challenges of mounting a race with less than 100 days until voting is likely to begin.

Those challenges include not only raising money, but also spending it effectively in the crucial states with early primaries. That would mean meeting filing deadlines, hiring staff members, recruiting volunteers, putting together a travel schedule for Mr. Christie and his surrogates and devising a media campaign.

“They’re getting their arms around what’s going to be required,” said a political operative who has been briefed on the deliberations among Mr. Christie’s team. “What does an operation look like? What are the requirements in each of the states? What are the things that need to be done before we talk about people and résumés and office space?”

Mr. Christie’s advisers said on Saturday that no formal planning for a campaign would begin unless the governor made a decision to run. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they said current efforts are nothing more than “due diligence” should Mr. Christie decide to make a bid. One senior adviser said no campaign is under way but expressed confidence that one could be started in 24 hours if needed.

The high-level advisers also said that the flurry of political activity around Mr. Christie includes unsolicited strategic advice and offers of help from potential donors and consultants who are eager to see him run but are not part of the governor’s inner circle. Friends say that only Mr. Christie can decide what is right for him.

“This is a very smart guy who can figure this out for himself, and I think that’s all that needs to be said,” said William Palatucci, a close confidant of Mr. Christie. He played down any immediate campaign planning, saying that his own weekend plans included “going to pick up my daughter from her sleepover.”

Those pushing Mr. Christie to run include the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Nancy Reagan and the conservative columnist William Kristol.

Mr. Christie has become particularly popular among those establishment Republicans and major party donors who are seeking a candidate who could be a more exciting alternative — and one with potentially broader appeal — than one of the perceived front-runners, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

The push to recruit him intensified after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who had been seen as a promising alternative, received poor debate performance reviews two weeks ago.

If the odds of a campaign were very low just weeks ago, they are increasing. Others say that, in the end, they still believe he will take a pass.

A hastily put together campaign would upend what two of Mr. Christie’s advisers said was his original plan: to consider running for president in 2016. But with President Obama looking more vulnerable, and with dissatisfaction among some voters and influential party leaders with the current Republican field, Mr. Christie is said by those close to him to feel that his best opportunity to run might be now.

“They have to run a billion-dollar operation, which they weren’t prepared to do,” said a second political operative who was briefed on the deliberations among Mr. Christie’s team. “For the first time, they are actually considering it seriously.”

The pressure on Mr. Christie has come from just about every direction. It came at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California last week, where everyone from members of the audience to Mrs. Reagan urged him to reconsider his refusal to run.

It came when Mr. Christie stopped by a breakfast of conservative columnists at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington. Mr. Kristol said he told Mr. Christie that day that he was “a big man for a big job.”

Mr. Kristol again urged Mr. Christie to run in a widely circulated Weekly Standard column last week. He has argued that Mr. Christie is perfectly engaged in the budget battles of the day and would bring an urgency to a campaign that other candidates lack.

At a fund-raising event in SoHo this year for New Jersey Republicans, with Mr. Christie as a host, Mr. Kissinger showed up. A person who was there quoted Mr. Kissinger as saying: “At my age, I have other things to do than to spend a Thursday night at a fund-raiser — but this guy is so important to the future of our country that I came here to tell you that you have to support him — and now I have to go.”

Mr. Kissinger was also among the guests at a meeting of dozens of top donors and other prominent Republicans convened by Ken Langone, the Home Depot founder. Mr. Kissinger surprised some of those there, according to a person briefed on the meeting, when he spoke up and urged Mr. Christie to run, saying that he would best represent United States interests abroad.

The pressure has also come in calls Mr. Christie has received or as he has bumped into influential Republican supporters, among them Mr. Murdoch, according to people close to both men who would discuss the subject only on the condition of anonymity.

In private conservations, several Republican governors have suggested that Mr. Christie consider running, as well.

One of them was Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, who has publicly praised Mr. Christie, saying in a recent Bloomberg View forum that “he has a certain magic about him.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said he believed that Mr. Christie would bring “intelligent straight talk” to the race but conceded that he was mixed about whether he should jump in.

“Do I think Christie should run? My heart says without a doubt — with that passion and because of his excitement,” Mr. Walker said. “My head looks at it, though, and thinks anyone who is in their first term as governor needs to run for re-election first. It’s tough to be ready to be a candidate and to be well versed, particularly in foreign policy, and to have an organization.”

Mr. Christie’s team, led by Mike DuHaime, a veteran Republican strategist, is acutely aware of the difficulty of having a candidate with great press and a big bank account, but no ground game. Mr. DuHaime ran Mr. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign, with just that profile.

As recently as three months ago, Mr. Christie’s advisers had few doubts that Mr. Obama would be re-elected.

That changed with polls showing steep declines in the public’s assessment of Mr. Obama’s leadership and with a Republican upset in a special election for a House seat in the Democratic bastion of Queens.

“Sometimes the man can’t choose the moment,” one of the political operatives said. “That discussion has been part of the last 10 days.”

Those last 10 days have largely been spent assessing the practical questions of conducting a campaign in what one operative described as a “very low-key, very hush-hush” way.

“It’s not a lot of time,” the operative said. “It’s a fair thing to say that they’re aware of that. But it’s not impossible. And there’s lots of people, financial and otherwise, who are still on the sidelines. There’s going to be personnel there if he decides to go.”

via Michael D. Shear, David M. Halbfinder, and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times


2 thoughts on “Christie Team Assessing How Fast A 2012 Campaign Could Be Mounted

  1. I hope that someone points out to Christie that he has about the same experience as Obama when he was elected. Obama hasn’t learned much as president and his ineptness and inability flashes around the world regularly. I would vote for Christie today before any other candidate. This might tell you something about how I feel about all thte candidates. But… Christie doesn’t have the experience of facing up to huge forces just as Obama didn’t. Some will say he still doesn’t. Huge forces include world opinion (who cares?), Wall Street (isn’t it time to stomp them down a bit?), the far left and the far right (hey, move back to my world or sit down), and the political monster of DC (and WE created this). His not running will give Obama or somebody four years to go up in smoke destroying more of America bit by bit. If we’re concerned about his weight he can lose a half ton or so. I say this as an old man who falls in the 50-pounds-over category. It’s not good to be as overweight as he and I are. He needs someone to slap him alongside the head and tell him to be proud he’s thought a good candidate for president but the smart thing is to prove himself in New Jersey first.

    Posted by Al Hinton | October 3, 2011, 11:04 AM


  1. Pingback: Gov. Christie: Please Don’t Run… « Sago - October 3, 2011

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