Chris Christie Aims To Grab Spotlight In Iowa With Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush Absent

Jumping in while potential rivals Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are absent, Chris Christie will try to grab the spotlight in Iowa on Saturday at the first big gathering of likely 2016 Republican presidential contenders.

At the Iowa Freedom Summit hosted by Republican Rep. Steve King, the New Jersey governor will wade into a potentially hostile crowd of influential activists who largely eye him with distrust for his stewardship of a liberal state, his silence on immigration and the "Bridgegate" scandal.

The summit will unofficially kick off the battle for the powerful state's support, and could be a significant moment for a Christie campaign that would need grassroots conservatives alongside its mainstream donor base.

A warm reception could help Christie regain momentum after weeks of headlines about Bush and Romney, and blunt the perception that his brash style would antagonize Iowa Republicans.

"Chris just can't hang on the establishment mantle, the field's getting crowded," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, noting that Christie speaks about his pro-life beliefs in a compelling way for social conservatives.

"If he is going to shed the (Republican in name only) label, he is going to have to mingle with Republicans of all stripes."

Read more from Gabriel Debenedetti at Reuters 

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