Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney brought New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Iowa Friday, ahead of Tuesday night’s caucuses, to rally last-minute support among conservatives.
“Take nothing for granted” said Christie as he urged a crowd of about 1,000 people in Des Moines to vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, a Mormon who chose not to attend gatherings of Christian conservatives in Iowa over previous months.
Christie, whom conservatives like for taking on New Jersey’s political establishment, encouraged likely caucus-goers to support Romney by comparing him with President Barack Obama. “Let me tell you, after three years of Obama, we are hopeless and changeless and we need Mitt Romney to bring us back,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
Romney also attacked Obama. “I’m sure he wants to go down in history as a great character,” he said. “I think history will see him as a footnote. I don’t think that there’s anything yet in his presidency that suggests a level of greatness which has been associated with our most extraordinary presidents. ... He’s not been up to the job. ... I think he’s over his head.”
Romney went on to criticize Obama for vacationing in Hawaii. “He just finished his 90th round of golf,” he said. “We’ve got 25 million Americans that are out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed.”
Romney appeared optimistic. “This feels wonderful,” he said. “I tell you, the crowds and the enthusiasm couldn’t be more wonderful.”
Romney emerged a frontrunner in NBC-Marist poll Friday with 23 percent support. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was close on his heels at 21 percent. In 2008, Romney got 25 percent of the caucus vote in Iowa and came in a distant second to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The NBC-Marist survey found former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum at 15 percent, up from 6 percent last month. But former House speaker Newt Gingrich sunk from 23 percent to 13 percent.
Christie was also optimistic, but cautious. “I want to tell you something really clearly, I’m in a good mood this morning, I’m feeling happy and upbeat, I love being with Mitt and Ann,” Christie was quoted as saying. “But let me tell you, if you people disappoint me on Tuesday, you don’t do what you are supposed to do on Tuesday for Mitt Romney, I’ll be back, Jersey style,” he added, jokingly.
Christie also said if Romney becomes the GOP nominee he would not rule out joining him as his vice presidential running mate. Both Christie and Romney have the experience of being governors with Democratic-controlled legislatures in the Northeast.
As the causes are around the corner, Romney appears willing to talk about his faith. “I read scripture regularly, and seek the counsel of my creator on a daily basis,” he told The Huffington Post Thursday. “I pray every day. I don’t read scriptures every day, probably should,” he added.
However, many Christian conservatives say they have a problem with Romney’s faith, which rejects one of Christianity’s central tenets – the Trinity, the belief in one God in three Persons – and considers Joseph Smith Jr. to be the first latter-day prophet who restored the original Christian church in the 19th century in America.