100+ GOP donors to meet with Christie in Palm Beach County to discuss White House bidby George Bennett | January 15th, 2014
More than 100 Republican donors are expected to meet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie somewhere in Palm Beach County on Sunday to discuss a possible 2016 campaign for president.
“It’s just a meeting of people I’d like to have him meet, get to know him. Just a meet-and-greet” and not a fundraiser, said organizer Kenneth Langone, a New York investor who co-founded Home Depot and owns an oceanfront home in unincorporated North Palm Beach.
Langone, who said he expects donors from all over the country to attend, wouldn’t reveal the site of Sunday’s meeting except to say “it’ll be in Palm Beach someplace.”
Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association and will be in Florida over the weekend with Gov. Rick Scott for fundraisers in Orlando, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
Langone said Sunday’s powwow will be similar to one he helped organize a few years ago to try to persuade Christie to run for president in 2012.
“It was a good meeting and he gave it thought and he came back and said, ‘Quite frankly, I’m not ready. I’ve got things to do,’” Langone recalled.
The Florida trip is Christie’s first major foray outside the Garden State since news broke that some of his top aides conspired to shut down traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.
Christie, saying he was “blindsided” by the news, responded last week by apologizing during a marathon news conference and firing deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelley and cutting ties to close political adviser Bill Stepien.
Democrats have pounced on the bridge scandal, with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz planning to host media events Saturday near one or more of Christie’s Florida fundraisers.
But Langone said the bridge controversy adds to his admiration of Christie.
“All this latest episode does for me is to persuade me further that his ability to make decisions and be a leader who makes decisions is impressive,” Langone said. “The only reason this noise is going on is because everybody knows this guy can go the route. I’m very excited about his candidacy if he runs.”