DES MOINES — Chris Christie says he is serious about performing well in Iowa as he seeks the Republican nomination for president.
Christie, the New Jersey governor who to this point has spent far more time campaigning in nearby New Hampshire than fellow early voting state Iowa, said during a media event Tuesday that he plans to spend more time in the Hawkeye state.
Christie, who has languished in the bottom tier of most Iowa polls on the GOP race, made the promise after announcing the endorsements of a group of Iowa Republican activists and donors, including agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter and real estate developer Denny Elwell.
“This is an impressive team of people,” Christie said. “They have a plan for me to do very well in the Iowa caucuses, and my job is to execute that plan and that means being here, and I will be here frequently. …
“By the time you get to February, you will be tired of seeing me.”
About 50 people attended Tuesday’s event.
Christie portrayed himself as a “uniter,” someone who as president could bring together the Republican Party and also work with Democrats. He pointed to his time as New Jersey governor, where he has served with a Democrat-controlled state legislature.
Christie contrasted that willingness to reach across the aisle with other Republican presidential candidates.
“I wake up every day (as governor) knowing I’m not going to get everything I want,” Christie said. “As governor, it’s not an option for me to stand in the corner and hold my breath and do nothing.
“Compromise, everybody, is not capitulation. They’re two different words. And they’re two different words for a reason.”
Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson — three candidates who never have held elected public office — have lead recent Republican polls in Iowa.
Christie said he is not concerned by polls this early in the race and that he also considers himself a political “outsider.”
“I’m a Republican in New Jersey, which means I wake up every morning as an outsider,” Christie said. “I don’t cede the outsider mantle to anybody in this race.”
Christie spent a portion of the morning visiting with Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Branstad has said he will not endorse a candidate in the Republican primary. However, a former member of his administration and a state Department of Transportation official are working with Christie’s campaign, and Rastetter was appointed by Branstad to the board that governs the state’s public universities.
“He is putting together a strong grassroots organization and effort, many people who I know that are very well respected and also are hard workers in terms of grassroots organization,” Branstad said Tuesday. “But it’s a long time between now and the caucuses in February. There are a lot of candidates.”
Iowa Democrats also pointed to Christie’s record in New Jersey, including allegations that his administration engaged in political retaliation when it closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge, causing massive traffic jams in and out of Manhattan, and an August poll that said 54 percent of New Jersey voters believe Christie should resign as governor now that he is running for president.
“It appears some Iowa Republicans see no better option,” Iowa Democratic Party communications director Sam Lau said in a statement. “The only endorsement Iowans need to care about is from those who know Christie best — the 54 percent of New Jersey residents who have experienced his failed leadership and want him gone.”
Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette contributed to this report.