Why Christie is cozying up to King

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Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whom I suspect most neutral observers would consider one of Congress’ more offensive clowns, is in a competitive re-election fight this year, but will get a boost today when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) headlines a luncheon on King’s behalf.

It’s such an odd pairing that American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, released a video on the subject.

And why, pray tell, is the governor of New Jersey traveling 1,300 miles to campaign in support of a right-wing congressman even many Republicans find embarrassing?

As Yoda might say, begun the 2016 presidential race has.

For Democrats, the process has slowly been unfolding for much of the year, most notably at the recent Democratic National Convention. Among those cozying up to Iowa officials and delegates were Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (who also headlined Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry), Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Of course, this makes sense, given that President Obama is running for re-election this year, and no matter what happens in November, he won’t be on the ballot in 2016. It stands to reason that ambitious Democrats would start laying the groundwork for an eventual campaign.

But Republicans are ostensibly focused on electing Mitt Romney, who, if the GOP succeeds, will presumably be running for a second term in 2016. The problem, of course, is that many in the party expect Romney to lose, and want to be well positioned for the next campaign.

It’s why Christie’s stumping for King in Iowa, Rick Perry recently told Chuck Todd he’s looking forward to 2016, Rick Santorum will be in Iowa this week, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was in Iowa last month to headline a GOP event hosted by the National Rifle Association.

The New Republic, reporting a few weeks ago that the “jockeying has already begun,” highlighted many more names, including Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Gov. Suzanne Martinez (R-N.M.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.).

It may seem inappropriate for Republicans to scramble behind the scenes, working under the assumption that Romney will lose, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Steve King and Chris Christie

Why Christie is cozying up to King

Updated