After Christie’s no, a “Team Christie” member goes for Perry

Gary Kirke, a West Des Moines businessman who met privately with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie this summer to urge Christie to run for president, has now endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry.  (Kirke is a former insurance company executive who is now a gambling entrepreneur, operating “Wild Rose” casinos in Emmetsburg and Clinton.)

Here’s the statement Kirke issued this afternoon:

Several months ago I, along with a group of other Iowa Republicans, formed Team Christie, a concerted effort to recruit Gov. Chris Christie into the 2012 presidential race. While Gov. Christie graciously considered our call-to-action, he officially announced today that he will not be a candidate in 2012.

I deeply respect the governor’s decision and wish him well. But, we still have a race to win. After thoughtfully considering the capabilities and attributes of the fine individuals who are running for the Republican Presidential Nomination, I have decided to put my shoulder behind Texas Governor Rick Perry. I believe Gov. Perry offers the skills, ideas and conviction we need to be victorious in November.

Chris Christie taken to hospital

A spokesman for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says the governor was taken to a hospital for treatment of “breathing problems.”  Christie was in Iowa earlier this week.  Maria Comella — former press secretary to 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle and Rudy Giuliani’s spokeswoman for ’08 — is Christie’s communications chief.  She spoke with the Associated Press, telling the AP Christie is still in charge.

Chris Christie: let’s “find unity” on education reform (audio)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the closing address at the Iowa Education Summit in Des Moines this afternoon.

AUDIO: Christie’s speech (30 min) Said he wasn’t in Iowa to throw down a gauntlet.  (Moment later, at a news conference, Christie admitted gauntlet-throwing is his normal mode.)

Christie suggested there are warring factions in this fight over education that try to “demonize each other…so let’s set aside the hyperbole about who likes and who dislikes education…The time for change is now.”

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Christie not “feeling it” about 2012 field (audio)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just told a small group of reporters in Des Moines he may endorse a 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

“If someone has distinguished themselves in a way on the issues that I care about, that if I feel enthusiastic enough to endorse them, I will. Now, as was alluded to in one of the earlier questions, I’m not a half-way kind of guy, so if I’m going to get in and support someone I’m going to do it 100 percent and to get there, I have to feel that way about one of the people offering themselves for president and so if that moment comes, I certainly won’t keep it a secret, but I certainly am under no legal obligation to endorse anybody,” he said. “….If I felt it right now, I’d endorse somebody. I don’t.”

AUDIO: Full exchange about the presidential race, which starts at the 11-minute mark.

Christie was in Des Moines to give a speech at Governor Branstad’s Education Summit.  He’s headlining a fundraiser this evening for Congressman Steve King.  Twice during the news conference Christie said he had come to Iowa at Governor Branstad’s invitation rather than his own initiative.

Christie was asked if he had gotten any encouragement “during your short trip here” that would make him change his own mind about running for president in 2012.  “I don’t think there’s anything in particular that has happened since I landed here,” Christie paused to look at his watch, “about an hour and a half ago.”   He was also asked about 2016.

At the start of the news conference, Christie was asked about a lawsuit seeking documents about a meeting he had with Roger Ailes.  Here is Christie’s answer:

“I hear they’re dropping it now because we had no documents of communication between myself and Roger Ailes. The only document we had was an entry in my calendar about a dinner that I went to at Mr. Ailes’ home, which everybody already knew about, which Mr. Ailes had confirmed on the record. We’ve provided that calendar entry to the media organization that asked for it and told them that there are no other documents between me and Mr. Ailes at all and so my understanding is now from my staff is that they’ve been contacted and told that the suit is going to be dropped.”