MORNING LINE -- September 28, 2011 at 9:10 AM ET
Christie Listening to 'Every Word' of 2012 Encouragement
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks with former first lady Nancy Reagan before Christie delivers remarks during the Perspectives on Leadership Forum at the Reagan Library on September 27, 2011. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., refused to definitively rule in or out a 2012 presidential run during a high-profile speech and Q&A session at the Reagan Presidential Library Tuesday evening.
In fact, Christie was more explicit than ever before that he is considering taking the presidential plunge. At the very least, he's carefully listening to all the entreaties coming his way.
"It's extraordinarily flattering, but by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me," Christie told one member of the audience asking him to run last night.
"I thank you for what you're saying and I take it in and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it too," he told another person in the crowd who also pleaded with him to run.
In both his prepared remarks and his answers to audience questions, Christie appeared determined to buy himself some more time as he reconsiders his previous adamant denials. The "will he or won't he" speculation is something he clearly wanted to leave in place for now.
Slate's John Dickerson sums it up thusly:
"Chris Christie is not running for president until such time as he decides he will run for president, which he might announce in a sentence that abuts a previous one denying that he's running for president. Twice he was asked about his intentions. Once he seemed to say he wasn't running. The second time he suggested he was considering it. The effect could only have been improved if he had spoken while circling a mulberry bush."
Here are the headlines from the major papers:
The New York Times: 'Christie Adds Little New, but Fails to Quell the Talk'
The Washington Post: 'Though hearing pleas to run, Christie sidesteps 2012 questions'
The Wall Street Journal: 'After Christie Speech, the Answer Is Still 'No''
THE DASH FOR CASH
In politics, there's the horse race, and the money race. As far as the GOP presidential field is concerned, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are the front-runners for both.
With the third quarter fundraising period coming to an end Friday, the campaigns are making one last mad dash for cash aimed at beefing up their haul, which will serve as a key metric of financial health as the candidates begin to close in on the first nominating contests early next year.
Philip Elliott and Kasie Hunt of the Associated Press report on the expectations being set by the Romney and Perry operations.
"Romney's campaign says he could raise as much as $18 million by Friday, the sum he brought in during the first weeks of his campaign earlier this year. He'll likely come in below that, though he still is expected to lead the field.
Perry donors claim he could hit $10 million, raised since he entered the race early last month. His advisers, however, dispute that. They're lowering expectations either so Perry's haul looks more impressive when it's announced, or it's an indication that the GOP front-runner hasn't seen a flood of money accompany the huge dose of enthusiasm he initially generated."
The only other Republican outside the top-tier who appears likely to post a big number is Ron Paul. The Texas congressman raised more than $4.5 million in the previous quarter, and he has demonstrated an ability to tap his base of fervent supporters seemingly on command, such as with his "money bomb" last month that brought in $1.6 million in a single day.
Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor lays out the Paul campaign's expectations for the third quarter:
"The libertarian-leaning Texas congressman's loyal supporters are expected to keep his campaign well-fueled for the duration of the campaign. A Paul campaign official says "ballpark $5 million" for the third quarter."
The rest of the GOP hopefuls are having trouble keeping pace in the money race, which is making it all the more difficult to gain traction in the polls.
More from the AP's Elliott and Hunt:
"Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is in the single digits in most state and national public opinion polls, recently had to write himself a half-million dollar check to keep his campaign afloat. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann spent so much money in Iowa in August to win a statewide test vote that her web videos look more amateurish than professional now. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still mired in debt. Herman Cain, the former pizza company executive, has loaned himself hundreds of thousands of dollars so he can keep running. And Rick Santorum's team acknowledges that the former Pennsylvania senator is barely scraping by."
Whomever Republican voters select as their nominee will need to compete with President Obama's re-election effort, which raised nearly $50 million in the second quarter of 2011, and is expected to meet or exceed the $750 million raised during the 2008 campaign.
USA Today's Richard Wolf looks at the revved-up money push by team Obama, which has picked up considerable steam in September following a lull in July and August.
"After announcing his re-election drive, Obama held 12 fundraisers in April and 19 more the next two months. But budget talks over the need to raise the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit forced him to curtail his travel in July. He held no fundraisers, and only two in August.
This month has been different. Obama has held 11 fundraisers, Biden 12 and first lady Michelle Obama one, with three more on her schedule Friday in Maine and Rhode Island."
That big finish could be more than enough to make the president's third quarter fundraising total the envy of his GOP challengers yet again.
FLORIDA, FLORIDA, FLORIDA
The Sunshine State appears poised to upend the Republican nomination calendar and possibly once again push the Iowa caucuses to early January right on the heels of the Christmas and New Year's holiday season.
According to CNN's Peter Hamby, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon expects Florida's primary to be set for January 31 which will, no doubt, cause Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to seek to leapfrog their contests ahead of that to protect their early state status.
"'We are expecting to meet on Friday from 11 to 12, and I expect that they will pick January 31 as Florida's primary date,' said Cannon, who helped select members of the nine-member commission.
States are required to submit the dates of their primary and caucuses to the Republican National Committee no later than Saturday, but most states are expected to choose their dates by the close of business Friday."
National GOP officials were hoping Florida would secure February 21 as its primary date, which would still violate party rules but allow the four early states to keep their contests in February.
By the time the nomination calendar solidifies itself in the next couple of weeks, it could be that there will be only 10-11 weeks left before the voting begins.
ON THE TRAIL
All events listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama is back in Washington where at 11:25 a.m. he will participate in an "Open for Questions" roundtable in which he responds to question from readers of Yahoo!, MSN Latino and AOL Latino / Huffington Post Latino Voices. The president will also deliver his third annual back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School at 1:30 p.m.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at Liberty University in Lynchbrug, Va., at 10 a.m. and holds a media availability in Greenville, S.C., following her 5:15 p.m. radio interview at WORD FM Studios.
Mitt Romney holds a town hall meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Goffstown, N.H., at 11:45 a.m.
For all future campaign events, be sure to check out our Political Calendar.