I’m on the Christie non-presidential campaign trail today, flying to California (US Airways in-flight WiFi – holla!), where Christie is delivering what is being described as the biggest speech of his career at the Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.
C-SPAN is apparently carrying it live, FOX News is sending a camera, every national political reporter will be reading the tea leaves and Rick Perry will be (presumably) shaking in his cowboy boots.
In front of 970 people, plus press, Christie will speak about “American exceptionalism,” drawing a connection between Christie’s fiscal record in New Jersey and how that kind of prudent leadership is needed on a national level so the U.S. can restore its standing in the world. That's right -- Christie will touch on the biggest hole in his resume, foreign policy.
The speech comes after a frenetic, frenzied few days in which Christie has moved – in the minds and hearts of rich Republican donors and conservative media – from “we-wish-he-would-run-for-president” to “he’s-our-only-hope.”
Sources tell me (and lots of other reporters) that the pressure amped up after the Republican debate last week, when Perry is said to have bombed his performance. Calls are coming from all over the country – reporters, donors, politicos – imploring Christie to announce his candidacy ASAP. They say he will clear the Republican field, pushing aside Perry and Mitt Romney, and have a good chance of beating Obama.
What is still unclear in my mind -- and what sources differ on -- is whether Christie is politely entertaining these calls because:
A) It builds his national profile for a 2016 run while increasing his popularity at home (his favorability ratings in Jersey are up to 54 percent in a new poll released today) and helps him raise money for state Republicans (he is hosting fundraisers for the state party in Missouri and Louisiana this week).
B) He is actively considering a run, thereby reversing himself from his previous statements that he and his family aren’t ready (and backtracking from his threat to commit suicide to prove he wasn’t running).
Here’s a crib sheet to catch you up on the latest Christie For President campaign news in case you don’t pay close attention to presidential elections before they begin...
The New York Times offers this list of the wealthy Americans who are lined up to support him...A Star-Ledger editorial writer who Christie told to “get a life” earlier this month is now calling for him to take the plunge and run....NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not exactly buddy-buddy with the gov, says Christie should run...Former Gov. Kean, the elder statesman of New Jersey Republican politics, says Christie is “giving it a lot of thought.”....Nancy Reagan herself invited the governor to make this speech tonight, and former First Lady Barbara Bush called New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, telling her that raising four kids in the White House is totally cool....
And the Daily Show last night played a clip of Christie singing “Born To Run,” (a clip of which I posted yesterday) before host Jon Stewart showed his guest, actual GOP candidate Ron Paul, a picture of Paul’s head on Christie’s body.
So will he or won’t he? Your guess is as good as mine.