Gov. Chris Christie helps Gov. Gary Herbert raise $1 million

N.J. governor lays groundwork for possible future run for presidency

Published: Saturday, Sept. 22 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Trips to support candidates in key early voting states like Iowa, as well as Republican strongholds like Utah, only further fuel talk that Christie is already setting his sights on 2016.

“It’s certainly plausible that he’s starting,” said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala. “It’s a no-lose situation for him. He can get out and support the party and build up political capital just in case.”

If Romney loses in November, Scala said Christie can count on a place on the shortlist of GOP candidates. Campaigning for other Republicans now would also make it easier to raise money for a presidential race later, he said.

“Getting to know Romney donors and supporters would be useful for Chris Christie,” Scala said. “This is the kind of thing that invites speculation about his future plans. And that’s just the way he likes it.”

University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said Christie may be looking at Utah as a source of campaign funds should he run for president.

“Just as we’ve seen with Mitt Romney, if you’re a Republican, Utah is a good place to raise money,” Burbank said, noting it's always easier for a candidate to ask for cash once they've made a connection. 

Romney, a Mormon credited with turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, has collected more than $5.7 million in Utah so far this election.

A spokesman for the New Jersey state GOP, Douglas Mayer, said Christie  “is proud to support numerous Republicans across the country. It’s campaign season.”   

That means Christie hits the road “when his schedule allows it.” Some weeks he stays put, Mayer said, and other weeks he makes several trips to campaign, often for GOP gubernatorial candidates as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

From Utah, the New Jersey governor will head to Missouri for a fundraiser and then a rally for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence.

Christie spent Thursday in Iowa, raising money for both a congressional candidate and a political action committee. He was in Washington, D.C. Friday to speak at a fundraising event for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

He and Herbert got to know each other through the Republican Governors Association. In Tampa, Christie spoke at a Utah delegation brunch at Herbert’s request. Unlike his appearance in Utah Saturday, that speech by Christie was closed to reporters.

Herbert's Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, retired Army general Peter Cooke, held what his campaign called an "un-fundraiser" at his downtown office Saturday, selling chili and scones for $15 a plate. 

A spokeswoman for Cooke's campaign, Jan Hemming, said "the goal is not to raise money but to have a good time."

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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