New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in Iowa tonight, headlining a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad. 

Branstad told the crowd of more than 700 that it was the biggest campaign fundraiser he’d ever had in his five campaigns for governor.”And I don’t think I’ve been that inspired by a speech since Ronald Reagan was here and spoke,” Branstad said after the event. “He tells it like it is.” 

Christie told the crowd stories of his budget fights with Democrats in New Jersey and he spent several minutes blasting the teachers union his state.  (Listen to the entire speech here.) Christie wound down, though, by issuing a warning to his fellow Republicans about the budget and tax-cutting promises they’re making on the 2010 campaign trail.

“If we don’t put up, if we don’t perform this time, the public is going to send us to the wilderness and they’re going to send us there for a long time and we’re going to deserve to be sent because they’re tired of being disappointed,” Christie said. “Their tired of hearing politicians tell them one thing and do another. They want you, even if it’s painful, to stand up and tell them the truth.”  

After his speech, Christie stood before a group of Iowa and New Jersey reporters to reject the idea his Iowa visit could be a prelude to a run for the White House.  (Listen to the news conference here.)

“I am talking about what my belief in my heart is and I’ve said this very clearly, that to be president of the United States, you have have two things at a minimum. You have to want it more than anything else in the world and I don’t,” Christie said.  “Second, you have to feel like you’re absolutely ready, because if you get the chance to walk into the Oval Office and you’re not absolutely ready, you’re doing a disservice to your country and I don’t think I’m ready, so that makes me 0-2 — so that’s not real good.”

The campaign of Democratic Governor Chet Culver accused Christie of balancing New Jersey’s budget “on the backs of retirees” and government workers. Culver’s lieutenant governor warned Branstad would implement Christie’s ideas if he’s re-elected in November.

Individual tickets for tonight’s Branstad fundraiser were $100 each.