Monday, May 9, 2011

Iowa's GOP Donors Schedule Meeting to Beg Christie to Run for President

Associated Press reports that a group of influential big-money donors from Iowa will meet with Christie to plead with him to run for president. The story may be read here.

Summary: Prominent Republican donors from Iowa are scheduled to meet with Christie on May 31st. The stated goal of the meeting is for them to persuade Christie to run for president. The Iowan group is not satisfied with the current field of candidates; they believe they need someone who would both make a great president and be a great campaigner. Christie agreed to host the gathering at the governor's mansion in New Jersey. But Christie's spokesman says this does not mean Christie is hinting toward a run.

Analysis: As the article suggests, this is the latest sign--among many--that Republicans are divided and dissatisfied with the field thus far. No candidate has yet been able to unify the Party. As we discussed in a previous post, it's not just that Republicans are divided among different candidates and prefer their own. Rather, many Republicans find other candidates completely unacceptable.

At this point in the campaign, influential fundraisers such as the Iowan group would normally be picking a candidate (if they had not already done so). The contenders are eager to put their campaign infrastructure in place, and that takes money. They cannot go forward without the support of their donors. The fact that these donors would not only say "no" to the current candidates, but actually go to the lengths of meeting with someone who (repeatedly) said he would not run, shows how dire the situation is. Some might say it is a slap in the face of candidates like Romney and Pawlenty. It is doubly insulting coming on the heels of the Republican Party's first primary debate.

The article contains insights as to the kind of candidate the Republicans are seeking. They want someone who shares their conservatism, but that is not enough. They also want someone who can run a great campaign and beat Obama. Clearly, they do not yet see someone in the race who possesses both of those qualities.

The fundraisers' decision to arrange this meeting suggests they do not believe Christie when he denies he has an interest in running--or at least, that they believe he might reconsider. Christie's willingness to host such a meeting shows they have good reason to think so. After all, the donors made no secret of the meeting's sole purpose--to convince Christie to run--and he agreed to it. This is the clearest sign yet that Christie is indeed entertaining a run for the presidency. It is also the most public. Indeed, it was Christie's own spokesman who released this information to the Associated Press.

These are precisely the kinds of entreaties by prominent Republicans that Christie needs as an excuse to run. But the field is not yet fully developed: The primary will not begin in earnest until August-September. If Republicans are still as skeptical about the field then as they are now, Christie ought to feel comfortable about his chances of winning the nomination. So far, there are no indications that Republicans are changing their view of the field. Rather, the desperation appears to be growing. As such, Elephant Watcher calculates Christie has a 60% chance of winning the nomination.