Former Christie Boosters Starting To Back Romney
As I suspected, the Republican bigwigs who were sitting on the sidelines and hoping the Chris Christie would enter the race are starting to line up behind Mitt Romney:
With Governor Chris Christie confirming today that he won’t seek the presidency, some big-name donors are finally ready to commit themselves to Mitt Romney.
“A lot of us who normally would have been in this presidential race a long time ago, have been waiting for Christie to make a decision,” said Georgette Mosbacher, a Republican uber-fund-raiser and finance co-chair of the Republican National Committee who was among a group of Republican bundlers hoping to convince Christie to enter the race. “I think tomorrow, we’ll be contacting one another and probably put something together with Romney.”
“I’m going to go with Mitt Romney,” said John Catsimatidis, another donor who had been intrigued with Christie, in a brief phone interview this afternoon.
“You’re calling about yesterday’s news,” said Catsimatidis, who said he had gotten the indication Christie wouldn’t run from some of the governor’s advisers yesterday.
Catsimatidis said he had started pitching Romney in the last couple weeks, on the expectation the governor wouldn’t seek the nomination. At a meeting with other conservatives last Monday night, Catsimatidis said, he made the pitch for Romney’s electability.
“The speech I gave to my conservative friends was, if you pick somebody who makes you 100 percent happy, you only get 47 percent against Obama,” said Catsimatidis. “We have to capture the middle in order to win and make a change in this country. Ninety percent of them stood up and said, ‘You’re right.’”
Mosbacher conceded there was “some disappointment” at Christie’s decision, but said the public flirtation with Christie wouldn’t make it tougher to raise for Romney, especially with Texas governor Rick Perry suddenly slipping in the polls after a couple of disastrous debate performances.
“Look, we’ll raise the money that’s necessary to beat Obama,” she said. “It’s not going to be any harder than it would have been a month ago, or two months ago, or six months ago. Now it’s pretty clear. Perry has dropped pretty quickly. And I would say that the race is now Romney and Obama. Quite frankly, the enthusiasm wasn’t there at the outset. He’s less conservative than a lot of us would like. However, our first and foremost goal is to defeat Obama. And we do believe Romney, in terms of independents, will be a strong candidate. We will coalesce behind him now.”
Mosbacher went on to stay that the Republican donors that she knows do not consider Perry to be a factor at all, indicating that he’s going to have a lot of trouble gaining backing from the GOP establishment as the race heats up, especially if he fails to recover from his September mis-steps.
One Christie booster has already announced that he’s backing Romney:
Ken Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder who in recent weeks led an intense but unsuccessful effort to draft the New Jersey governor, Christopher J. Christie, into the presidential race, has decided he will now support Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.
Mr. Langone’s decision came just hours after Mr. Christie announced to the world that he would not make a bid for the White House, dashing the hopes of a several dozen prominent Republican officials and activists who had urged him to run.
Two people — a Romney campaign official and a major Romney donor — said that Mr. Romney had personally called Mr. Langone on Tuesday and that the businessman, one of the Republican Party’s top donors, had agreed to join his team. A spokesman for Mr. Langone did not respond to several inquiries.
As I said yesterday, Romney is a better fit for these old-line Republicans than Perry so this is entirely expected. I’m sure we’ll see more announcements like Langone’s in the coming weeks, and a very big bump in Romney’s fundraising haul when the 4th Quarter numbers come out in January. This is why, in the end, I think this race will come down to Romney and Perry. They’re the only two candidates in the field capable of putting together the money and organization necessary to win the nomination.