Team Pawlenty awaits decision from Chris Christie

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Since Tim Pawlenty ended his bid for the presidency last Sunday, his former staffers and key fundraisers have held off from endorsing another candidate or moving to another campaign. There’s a reason.

Team Pawlenty is waiting on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to make a decision about entering the field as a presidential candidate, The Daily Caller learned Friday.

Key staffers who formerly made up the Pawlenty campaign have been in discussions with Christie all week and the talks are still ongoing, sources told TheDC. They are reportedly very anxious to have Christie officially place his hat in the ring. At one point, there was discussion of Christie flying to Texas at the beginning of the week; he ultimately nixed that plan.

The sources also said that in the midst of back-and-forth discussions this week, Pawlenty staffers resisted an overture from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who is also rumored to be considering a bid, because they want Christie to run.

The New Jersey governor, who has in the past vehemently resisted ideas of a presidential campaign, is also currently under immense pressure from Republican Party insiders and fundraisers who want him to make a White House bid in 2012.

Rumors that Christie might reconsider a presidential campaign went into overdrive this week when former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove speculated in an interview on Fox News, Tuesday, that Christie or Ryan could still enter the race.

“I’m getting the same sense from some of those people that maybe it’s wishful thinking on their part, that they’re so enthusiastic about Paul Ryan or Chris Christie jumping into the race that they’re getting out of the conversation what they want to hear,” Rove said in the interview. “But there’s enough of that chatter that I think we’ve got to give it some credence.”

Then, news broke that the governor was conducting focus groups in exploring a possible bid. Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella explicitly denied this report, telling MSNBC “It’s absolutely not true,” and Christie’s office flatly denied the governor was preparing for a run.

A Christie campaign would definitely shake up a GOP presidential field that was already thrown a major curve ball this week with the late entrance by Texas Governor Rick Perry. Tim Pawlenty, an early front-runner, ended his campaign Sunday after running out of funds and finishing Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll in a disappointing third place.

Update:  Christie adviser Michael DuHaime told TheDC, “They are not discussing it with me, and I would be the one they would need to discuss something with.”  When pressed further, DuHaime confirmed that a call took place between Pawlenty and Christie on Sunday. DuHaime called the conversation a “condolence call to a friend. Nothing more than that.”