While New Hampshire remains central to Christie’s fortunes, Iowa could end up playing a catalytic role for his campaign. Not even his most resolute allies argue that he has a prayer of winning the caucuses: At the moment, Christie is barely registering in the polls there. But the backing of prominent Branstad allies – including Bruce Rastetter, an influential GOP donor who hosted one of the first high-profile GOP presidential cattle calls of the year – has sent a signal across the state that Christie shouldn’t be written off just yet. Not long after Rastetter’s endorsement, Christie unveiled a broader Iowa leadership team that included 30 names, including Iowa state House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Adrianne Branstad, daughter in law of the governor.
Christie had already secured the support of Phil Valenziano, the political director for Branstad’s 2014 campaign, who serves as Christie’s Iowa director and helped run Christie’s leadership PAC prior to his official presidential announcement.
“The machine is built. It’s just a matter of putting gas in it,” said a senior Iowa Republican unaffiliated with any presidential campaign. “From that standpoint, if there is a Christie second act or if all of a sudden Christie gets a wind at his back, they will have an organization.”…
Christie is also making a concerted effort to win over former Walker supporters. Last week, he courted Connie and Kim Schmett, a married couple who served on Walker’s Iowa leadership team. The outreach began with a phone call to Connie Schmett, who at first thought the call from Christie was a prank. When she realized it was him, she advised him to “be yourself” on the campaign trail.