There is a fascinating, if slightly disturbing, account in Mike Allen’s newsletter from Politico this morning:
FLY ON THE WALL: Fifty of the most prized donors in national politics, including several hedge-fund billionaires who are among the richest people in the world, schlepped to a Manhattan office or hovered around speakerphones Tuesday afternoon as their host, venture capitalist Ken Langone (pronounced LAN-goan), a co-founder of The Home Depot, implored New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to reconsider and seek the GOP presidential nomination. The governor was firm that it’s not in the cards this time, but left his spurned suitors with the impression he might well go in 2016. He impressed the audience with his emphasis on family and commitment, and flashes of disarming humor.
Langone backed Rudy Giuliani in 2008, and his guests came from both parties, although most were moderate Republicans. Most are uncommitted in the presidential race. Participants who rank on the Forbes list of richest Americans included Bernie Marcus, Paul Tudor Jones (hedge funds; $3.3 billion), Stan Druckenmiller (hedge funds; $2.5 billion) and Bernie Marcus (Home Depot; $1.9 billion). Several of them said: I’m Republican but I voted for President Obama, because I couldn’t live with Sarah Palin. Many said they were severely disappointed in the president. The biggest complaint was what several called “class warfare.” They said they didn’t understand what they had done to deserve that: If you want to have a conversation about taxation, have a conversation. But a president shouldn’t attack his constituents — he’s not the president of some people, he’s president of all the people. Someone mentioned Huey Long populism.
–Here’s a paraphrase of what Christie told his would-be backers: “I’m not running, but I came because Langone is so aggressive, he basically just physically shook me into doing it. I’ve weighed this carefully; I didn’t dismiss it out of hand. There were four considerations. 1) One question was: Where’s my wife? She’s not enthused. 2) The second is: I looked ahead at the potential for two years of running, and not seeing my kids. If I won, six years of not seeing them. If I won a second term, 10 years of not seeing them. Missing my kids growing up is a big deal to me, and it was a big reason. The wife was the biggest. The children were the second. 3) I’m staying in New Jersey. I am not just going to quit halfway through my term. The people trusted me, and I feel like I owe that trust and faith some fidelity. 4) And fourth: Could I win? Could I really do it? I think I would win — not saying I would win, but I could win. I brought my oldest son today because, first of all, I wanted him to wake up early. And, second of all, to have to put on his one suit and tie. But I wanted him to listen because if I did run, which I’m not going to — but if I did in the future — it’s going to affect him. There’s six people in the family — I’m just one. I recognize that not all of you would immediately commit, but it certainly makes me realize that if I were to run, and had this group were behind me, I certainly wouldn’t have any problem raising money.”
Dear wealthy moderate Republicans: I mean no disrespect, as you’ve made more money than I’ll probably ever earn and you’re quite accomplished in your fields. And like you, I find Chris Christie to be a bold and inspiring leader, who makes a very intriguing option at the national level someday.
But not all of us are shocked and stunned about Obama’s class warfare and his demonization of you and the sense that he doesn’t think of himself as your president too. Some of us spent two years telling anyone who would listen that he was a lot more liberal than his bland, blank-slate rhetoric suggested. And was all of this worth it because you “couldn’t live” with Sarah Palin? Really? The prospect of having her living at the Naval Observatory was so epically offensive to your sensibilities that you really thought this, and all of the economic joy we’ve endured for the past 30 months, was the better option?
By any chance, have you done any reexamination of all of that thinking in the past two and a half years?
Beyond that, I found Christie’s comment that he couldn’t bear to not see his children grow up a suggestion that this is a man with a clear sense of priorities and values strangely healthy for the world of politics.