Chris Christie Starts 2016 Presidential Campaign PAC

Governor Christie moved to level the playing field in a crowded GOP presidential primary field, unveiling a political action committee Monday that allows him to hire staff and fund cross-country travels as he considers a potential candidacy.

The move was expected and comes after Christie worked to woo conservative voters in Iowa Saturday and as he prepares for a trade-mission to England this weekend, a trip aimed at bolstering his foreign policy credentials.

Contributions to the new committee are capped at $5,000, while other potential candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, are connected to “super” PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts.

Political analysts say this is just the first of many calculated moves the governor will make as he plots out a presidential bid in a field where many other candidates already have a fundraising apparatus in place.

“This is step one in a two-step process. But what he’s concerned about in the timing is not being able to raise money, but getting the folks on board who can help him raise the money,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid. The next step, O’Connell said, is to create a super PAC.

Christie’s position at the RGA – which took him to 37 states for more than 180 events – gives him some advantages over the competition. But the governor also faces the challenge of breaking into a crowded field during a time when New Jersey’s economic recovery is lagging behind the nation’s and he’s facing questions over top aides being involved in a plot to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

O’Connell pointed to Christie taking on a heckler in Iowa as an example of why he could do well in the primary – he’s good with people and the governor’s team knows that.

“They recognize that the power to get higher up in this game is having Christie out on the stump and connecting with people because no one comes away with a negative when he’s out there,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Melissa Hayes and Herb Jackson at NorthJersey.com

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Analysis & Political Strategy