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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is launching a political action committee ahead of a likely run for the GOP presidential nomination. 

The Leadership Matters for America PAC gives the Republican an important organizational and fundraising vehicle, as he builds a possible 2016 campaign team. The move also will catch him up with many of his other potential rivals who have already launched their own leadership PACs. 

{mosads}According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, longtime Christie aide Mike DuHaime will serve as the PAC’s senior adviser, and the group will begin fundraising immediately with events in at least 10 states over the coming months. 

Under Federal Election Commission regulations, the leadership PAC can’t promote a specific candidate — Christie is technically the group’s honorary chairman — but it can fund the potential candidate’s travel and other campaign-related activities. 

“We believe there’s a void right now in leadership throughout the country,” DuHaime told the Journal. “We aim to support candidates who are willing to take on tough problems and make tough decisions.”

Other top aides to the PAC will include Phil Cox, who served as the executive director of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) under Christie. The RGA’s outgoing finance director Paige Hahn will also serve as the new PAC’s finance director, while outgoing Republican National Committee Finance Chairman Ray Washburne will be the PAC’s finance chairman. 

Christie has also secured top aides in critical early states who will work with the PAC. Iowa operative Phil Valenziano, former political director for Gov. Terry Branstad, is focusing on the Hawkeye State. Outgoing New Hampshire Republican Party Executive Director Matt Mowers, a former Christie aide, will work with the PAC in the Granite State. 

According to the PAC’s website, its goal is to “find the political will to take on the entrenched special interests that continually stand in the way of fundamental change, reform entitlement spending at every level of government, and ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to a quality education.”

The formation of a leadership PAC — which other potential candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have also recently done — is yet another step Christie is taking as he seriously considers a run for the White House. 

Speaking at the Iowa Freedom Summit over the weekend, the governor referred to himself as a “candidate,” pitching himself to a skeptical crowd of conservative activists and signaling he doesn’t plan to ignore the state if he runs. 

“If I was too blunt, too direct, too loud and too New Jersey for Iowa, then why do you people keep inviting me back?” he asked, touting his friendship with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the event’s organizer and a hero to the base. “I’m here today because I’ve been a friend to Iowa, and Iowa’s been a friend to me.”

According to a tweet from the Iowa Republican’s Craig Robinson, Christie will be back in the state next month on Feb. 9 to speak to the Dallas County GOP.

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