New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made an appearance in Sioux City over the noon-hour today as the main draw at a fundraiser for Republican Congressman Steve King. King was absent, deciding this morning that he would fly to Washington to try to secure a promise that the Republican speaker of the house will bring the five-year Farm Bill up for a vote after the November election.
“(King) told me he regrets not being here,” Christie told the crowd. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. I’ll handle this. You do your job.’”
Christie told the group of Republican donors they “can’t take anything for granted” in this year’s election.
“Let’s start off with the presidential race. The state of Iowa is a state of consequence, everybody. You are a state of consequence. You are going to help determine the next president of the United States. You always do it in the Caucuses and now you’re doing in the General Election this year as well,” Christie said. “I saw a poll this morning that says it is an absolute dead heat in Iowa between Mitt Romney and President Obama. We need to get to work to turn that dead heat into a victory for Mitt Romney.”
Congressman King’s Democratic opponent is Christie Vilsack in the new fourth congressional district.
“We have to make sure that this year which is the year that’s always the most difficult for a member of congress when they have redistricting…they’re representing new folks who aren’t used to being represented by them — they need to make their case,” Governor Christie said in Sioux City. “This is the year that folks like us who know Steve King, who like Steve King and who trust Steve King — we’re the folks who have to stand up during these times and give testimony.”
Christie first met King during a congressional hearing that the New Jersey Republican described as a Democratic attempt to get fodder that would be used against him in his 2009 run for governor. According to Christie, King was the only Republican on the committee who stayed for the entire hearing.
“He had done his homework about this issue,” Christie said. “He stood up and defended me. He went on attack against the Democrats…and he never left his chair until he saw that I was up and was safely out of there.”
About 200 people gathered for today’s fundraiser in Sioux City and Christie apologized for being a bit late.
“Had a lot of enthusiastic Iowans out in the lobby of the hotel who were stopping me on my the way in here and asking for pictures and stuff and I have a weakness for that, so I just couldn’t say no,” Christie said and the crowd laughed. “It’s great to be back in Iowa.”
The chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement blasting King and Christie as “bombastic self-promoters” who are only interested in “one agenda — their own.”
Some GOP insiders had urged Christie to run for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination, but he decided against it. Christie has not ruled out a run in the future. He’s scheduled to speak in Altoona tonight at a fundraiser to benefit Republican candidates for the state senate.
Below is the audio of Christie’s speech in Sioux City, in three parts:
AUDIOpart1 runs 12 minutes
AUDIOpart2 runs 10 minutes
AUDIOpart3 runs 6 minutes
(Reporting in Sioux City by Woody Gottburg of KSCJ Radio; editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)