Iowa GOP donors to woo Chris Christie

A group of powerful Iowa Republicans will travel to New Jersey this month in an attempt to drag Gov. Chris Christie (R) into the 2012 presidential primary field.

The contingent of seven Iowa GOP donors includes energy executive Bruce Rastetter and will meet with Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party, on May 31 at the governor's mansion, The Associated Press reported Monday. 

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"There isn't anyone like Chris Christie on the national scene for Republicans," Rastetter said during an interview with the AP. "And so we believe that he, or someone like him, running for president is very important at this critical time in our country."

The meeting is a sign that a powerful segment of Iowa's political class is not satisfied with the current field of Republican candidates, and wants to inject it with new blood.

Many observers see Christie as one potential candidate on the sidelines who could stir up enthusiasm among GOP voters and activists. Elected in 2009, Christie has become a conservative darling for his blunt style and his efforts to implement a small-government agenda in a traditionally Democratic state. 

But Christie has repeatedly said he is not interested in running for president in 2012, going so far as to joke about committing suicide to convince people he is not running — although his decision to take the meeting indicates he is at least interested in hearing out potential supporters. 

Mike DuHaime, an adviser to Christie, told the AP that the meeting does not show Christie is considering changing his plans. The New Jersey governor on Monday also said he would give "real consideration" to supporting Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who is weighing a run.

Christie also has work to do in shoring up support in his home state: a poll released last month showed his approval rating taking a five-point tumble.

The group of Iowans visiting Christie includes several business figures with ties to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Branstad has not endorsed a candidate, and has praised his New Jersey counterpart on several occasions. 

After Christie campaigned for Branstad in Iowa last year, the Hawkeye State governor said, "I don't think I've been that inspired by a speech since Ronald Reagan."