Iowa emerges as a free-for-all among GOP’s establishment candidates.
Chris Christie is the consummate New Hampshire candidate, all the way down to his silver lapel pin in the outline of the Granite State.
Yet this week the New Jersey governor was in a relative wilderness, caravaning along the slushy roads of eastern Iowa and sporting a different pin on his suit jacket: the Iowa state flag.
“I want your vote,” Christie told a hundred Iowans bundled up inside a coffee shop here Tuesday morning. “I’m not here just to get a Fox News show or a book deal or something else. I want to be president.”
While New Hampshire remains the hub of activity for Christie and other establishment-favored Republican candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Iowa has suddenly emerged as a playground of opportunity, where an intense and stealthier battle among them is getting underway.
None of the establishment candidates expects to win Iowa, but associates of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio see an opportunity for a victory of momentum — and positive media coverage — for whoever can capture the most mainstream Republican support.
That faction, which the campaigns see as up for grabs, is estimated at anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of the electorate.
The moderates have another motivation: to somehow slow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who have dominated the polls here for weeks. Many Republican leaders ……
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