As Christie Watch has been chronicling for some time now, Governor Chris Christie continues to tiptoe his way back into the 2016 presidential conversation, though it’s clearly an uphill climb. Tomorrow night, Christie will appear as the keynote speaker at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual Walk to Washington, and Christie Watch will be there to file a complete report on the event. But the governor is also planning to make some news in June when he attends Mitt Romney’s own annual event, a “policy summit” to be held in Park City, Utah. It’ll be another cattle call for would-be 2016 GOP standard-bearers, and also in attendance will be Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee.
Let’s unpack this a bit. Romney, the failed candidate of 2012, is re-emerging in 2014—not as a candidate, it appears, but as a possible kingmaker, and one whose feet are firmly planted in the non–Tea Party, Establishment wing of the Republican party—where Christie and a possible rival in 2016, Jeb Bush, also reside. Even after the scandals that emerged to weigh Christie down last fall, Romney has consistently had nice things to say about Christie—even though some former Romney aides hold grudges about Christie’s embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey—and in February 2014 the two men appeared together at a Boston fundraiser that pulled in $1 million for the Republican Governors Association (RGA). As Christie Watch has been reporting, the New Jersey governor continues to raise millions of dollars for the RGA. According to the RGA’s latest release, the group broke all previous records in the first quarter of 2014, raising $23.5 million between January and March.
The significance of the Romney policy summit in June is that, aside from some star power, it will also be attended by a large number of bundlers and high-dollar donors who were part of Romney’s 2012 money machine. As The Washington Post reports, among “Romney’s financiers” at the event will be “Spencer Zwick, former national finance chairman for Romney’s campaign, Bob White, Romney’s former business partner, plus dozens of former bundlers for Romney’s campaign.” And the Post notes, in an earlier piece, that Romney made a special point in Boston in February of making sure that Christie would be there: