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Christie to Iowa GOP: Win in November, Then Look to '16

Christie to Iowa GOP: Win in November, Then Look to '16

By Tom Bevan - July 18, 2014

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrapped up his first trip to Iowa in more than two years this evening, exhorting a crowd of hundreds of GOP activists at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds here to help make the November midterms a memorable occasion for Republicans in the Hawkeye State and across the country.

“All the candidates are going to work hard,” Christie told them. “How about you?” He walked the crowd through two scenarios for the day after Election Day -- one in which the GOP won a smashing victory across the state, and the other in which it came up short.

“Do you want to lay there and think to yourself, ‘If I’d only done a little bit more, if only I’d put my state first, put my country first, just for 110 days,’” Christie said. “We’ll have feelings of regret, and those pangs of guilt.”

Alternatively, he told the activists, they could wake up on Nov. 5 with a feeling of great satisfaction.

“You’re going to know you did it,” he said. “It wasn’t the 30-second TV ads -- as pretty as they were.  It wasn’t the mail in the mailbox. It was you. Because you’re still the most powerful force in politics in America. I suspect Iowa understands that better than any state in America.”

In remarks lasting a little more than 20 minutes, the two-term governor laced his election pep talk with his trademark humor -- which came, as usual, at the expense of New Jersey Democrats.

“Someone asked if I’m staying in Iowa tonight. I said, ‘Listen, part of my legislature was in town today without me there. They are not allowed in the statehouse without adult supervision. I have to get home,’” Christie said to big laughs from the crowd.

The speech capped a full day of events across the state. He was introduced by Gov. Terry Branstad, who called him a “dear friend” and who said Christie’s 2009 victory in New Jersey was the inspiration that motivated Branstad, who had served as Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, to mount a comeback.

Christie appeared relaxed and noticeably lighter, though no mention was made of his weight loss. Nor was there any mention of the ongoing investigation into the infamous traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in which a number of Christie’s top aides have been implicated.

But there were a couple of passing references to the other 800-pound gorilla in the room: the 2016 presidential race. Christie said that after Republicans have won a big victory in November it would be time to “turn our eyes to 2016 and to taking our country back.” But, he cautioned, “first things first.”

Christie closed his remarks with an even more tantalizing reference to 2016, and to the state that hosts the nation’s first nominating contest.

“These folks in the press who follow me around have been asking me, ‘Do people in Iowa love you, governor?’ I say, ‘Heck, I don’t know, we just met.’” Christie said, pausing for a beat before adding, “But the early indications are good.”

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email: tom@realclearpolitics.com, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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