“You know what a lot of them say to me? I think we need Mitt back.”

In interviews with more than a dozen party officials, fundraisers, and strategists in New York and Washington over the past 10 days, Republicans described a palpable sense of anxiety gripping the GOP establishment in the wake of Christie’s meltdown, and an emerging consensus that the once promising cast of candidates they were counting on to save the GOP from the Tea Party — and the nation from Hillary Clinton — is looking less formidable by the week…

“Everyone thinks there’s probably a 60% chance the other shoe will drop,” said the operative, who like many of the people quoted in this story, requested anonymity to speak freely about a situation that is still evolving. “When I saw the press conference, I said, I don’t think he’s lying… But for the deputy chief of staff to do something like that requires a culture in the office that he would have set, and it probably requires other examples that would have made her feel like that was acceptable to do.”…

“There are definitely people jumping ship,” the operative said, noting that confidence in Christie’s electability has dropped off sharply among the donors he’s heard from…

In fact, it’s gotten so bad, the operative said, that some donors have started looking back fondly on the good old days of 2012: “You know what a lot of them say to me? I think we need Mitt back.”