Why Chris Christie is showing up in Iowa

Barbara Hovland, chairwoman of the Cerro Gordo County Republican Party and a Christie backer, said the governor’s best hope lies in the two-thirds of caucus-goers who told the Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll they still have not firmly committed to a candidate.

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“I don’t think he’s just playing defense here,” Hovland said in an interview. “If he spends the next two weeks here he can cover a lot of ground—he can go into a lot of coffee shops and hold a lot of town halls. If he wants to do it he certainly has enough time.”

Hovland thinks there’s plenty of reason for Christie to make the investment. “I don’t think everything depends on Iowa, but you do need a strong top three or five showing,” she said. Pointing to former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum’s surprise win in the 2012 caucuses over the much more high-octane campaign of eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Hovland argued that Christie’s strength is the kind of grassroots politicking that works well in Iowa. While other candidates enjoy mass appeal, the depths of that support may not be deep enough come Feb. 1, she said.

“Donald Trump pulls thousands of people at his events but the question is whether those people are going to caucus for him, or do they just want to take a picture and say they were there? There’s still plenty of time.”

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