Not even a year after election to his first term, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has become a popular commodity for fellow Republicans running for governor in states as far away as California. He has been on a barnstorming tour of the country, headlining rallies in New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. He's also scheduled to stop in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut.
But it was his stop in Iowa Monday to support former governor Terry Branstad that really has tongues wagging. Christie was in Iowa to help Branstad unseat the incumbent governor, Democrat Chet Culver, even in the middle of a crisis back in New Jersey over transportation funding.
"The fact that he's doing this sends a signal," David Yepsen, the former dean of Iowa political reporters told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a story with the headline "Christie's trip to Iowa hints of White House ambition." "I call it a 'deal me in' kind of appearance," added Yepsen, now the director of Southern Illinois University's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. He said Christie is signaling, "I'm not necessarily going to play, I just want to make sure you have a seat at the table for me if I do."
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Center for Politics at Rider University in New Jersey, told the Press of Atlantic City that Christie was repaying the Republican Governors Association for its help in getting him elected. One reason Christie attracts crowds in far-off states is that he is a Republican elected in the Northeast, which has skewed increasingly Democratic in recent years, Dworkin said.
But, as for Christie, he's not having any of the presidential talk, relates Radio Iowa . "No chance. No way. No how. Door is closed," Christie said at a press conference. In order to run for president, he said, you have to want it more than anything else and you have to be ready to handle the office from the moment you walk in the Oval Office. Neither, he said, are true for him.