How much does the business community want New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to be the next president of the United States?
So much so that a major financier has vowed to raise more than $200 million to help him win the Republican nomination and then unseat President Obama in the 2012 elections, the FOX Business Network has learned.
Financier Kenneth Langone has been telling people that he had commitments from as many as 15 people to raise as much as $15 million each for a 'Christie for President' effort, the FOX Business Network has learned.
Christies answer? Depending on who you speak to its ranges anywhere from non committal to absolutely not.
Langone wasnt available for comment.
A spokesman for Christie wouldnt comment on the fundraising details, but confirmed earlier reports that around two weeks ago the New Jersey governor met with Langone and a group of CEOs and top executives, including financiers Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross in New York City about a possible presidential run.
Christie has routinely said publicly that he isnt running for president, but one person who attended the meeting said his tone wasnt absolute. He basically said I have a commitment to the state of New Jersey and my family first, said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It sounded like he was leaving the door open just a bit.
Others came away with a different impression. He said he isnt running, (that) was what I understood, said another executive, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Even so, both executives said the level of financial commitments Langone had told people -- including the governor -- he had for Christie to run for president was surprisingly large for a one-term governor, even one who has earned a reputation as a successful budget cutter and one who has taken on hot-button issues such as pension reform.
According to these people, it shows the level of dissatisfaction with President Obamas economic policies; during the presidential 2008 campaign he enjoyed major support from Corporate America, but his frequent attacks on business leaders as fat cats and his proposals to raise taxes has clearly hurt his standing among executives.
But it also shows that the corporate executives are also dissatisfied with the current crop of Republican contenders, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran a private equity fund.
My guess is that if Christie wanted to run, Langone could raise much more than $200, said one executive with direct knowledge of the matter.