Christie still a draw, but GOP donors worry about his 2016 prospects

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2014, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Keansburg, N.J., at a gathering of residents whose homes in Keansburg, were heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Where just months ago Republicans brimmed with pride in Christie’s landslide re-election, doubts about his prospects as a potential presidential candidate have begun creeping quietly into the minds of some donors in key states, according to some GOP fundraisers. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

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Democrats, meanwhile, have been busily trying to fan the flames of Christie's problems. "He needs to explain how such a culture could be created among his closest advisers that they would feel comfortable closing the busiest bridge in the world," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told The Associated Press in Chicago Tuesday. Strickland, who was dispatched to Chicago by the Democratic National Committee, also was quick to point out that Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and GOP Gov. Rick Perry were absent from Christie's events in the state last week.

Christie got commitments of $1.5 million from donors in Texas, said Gitcho.

Christie remains a popular figure in segments of the national Republican donor base and among other GOP governors.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Christie in Florida last week and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is welcoming his help. Both face tough fights this year for re-election. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, viewed as a safe bet for re-election for now, also is standing by him.

"I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt, just like anyone else. Innocent until proven guilty," Branstad said last week.

John Rood, a top Florida GOP fundraiser, also defended Christie, saying hardball politics is a valued trait.

"You want a president who is strong, who will stand up to world leaders. Does that make him a bully? I don't know," said Rood. "There's a fine line in that range of personality."

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Associated Press writers Angela Delli Santi in Trenton, N.J, and Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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