Courting Christie: One of the leaders of those 7 Republicans who flew to New Jersey Tuesday afternoon to court Governor Chris Christie to change his mind and run for president thinks the group definitely made some progress. West Des Moines businessman Gary Kirke lead the trip along with Hardin County businessman Bruce Rastetter and Ankeny's Denny Elwell. All are major Iowa Republican political donors. Kirke said, "Did we do our job as a salesperson? Yes, we did. We made our point very clearly. And he got it and everybody in the room got it."
Kirke added, "I would say he's thinking about it (running for president). But he didn't make any commitment by any stretch. But he's coming to Iowa in July and I think that's a good sign." "We definitely have his attention. I think we've got him thinking about it like he's never thought about it before."
Kirke said Christie told the group he would come to Iowa to take part in Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's Iowa Education Summit in July. Branstad's office had not announced that yet.
Kirke said his group isn't actively talking to any other person about possibly running for president and plans on continuing the dialogue with Christie. He didn't elaborate about what that dialogue would include. But he said the group would "take a step at a time" to make sure to "keep the fire burning".
Kirke said his group met for nearly three hours with Christie, Christie's wife and main political staff and advisers (about 21 total people at the dinner, he recalls) at the New Jersey's governor's mansion Tuesday night over dinner. He characterized the meeting as, "it was cordial. It was unbelievable. It was like old home week." However, Kirke pointed out several times Christie is concerned about fulfilling his obligations to New Jersey residents as governor and he is concerned about his wife and 4 children and what running for president would mean for them. So he wanted to make sure we understand Christie did NOT say he would run. But Kirke's impression is he is now definitely seriously considering it.