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Legislator Hopes to Spark ‘Christie for President’ Movement in S.C.

South Carolina state Rep. Phyllis Henderson (R) wants to draft New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie into a 2012 presidential run.

The governor has repeatedly said he will not pursue the Republican presidential nomination this cycle, but Henderson is hoping that a “draft Chris Christie” news conference she is organizing for the week of June 14 and encouragement from others will convince him otherwise.

“Many of us are still holding out for Chris Christie,” Henderson told Roll Call on Friday. “I like Chris Christie, and I think a lot of people do like him because he’s willing to tell it like it is and say what he thinks.”

Henderson said she and many Republicans she has talked to in the Palmetto State are disenchanted with the current field of GOP presidential candidates. They are looking for someone who they believe can fire up the base and beat President Barack Obama, she added.

Encouraged by Christie’s willingness to at least listen to similar entreaties from Iowa Republicans, Henderson decided to act in an attempt to get his attention in South Carolina, a key early primary state on the GOP nominating calendar. The news conference will coincide with next week’s special session of the state Legislature.

The Greenville-area lawmaker has reached out to other state Representatives about joining her, and she said the response has been positive. Henderson has not had any contact with Christie’s political team.

Christie recently hosted a dinner for a group of Iowa Republicans in the New Jersey governor’s mansion, and he reiterated his decision not to run for president in 2012. But Christie, who was elected in 2009, did recently accept an invitation from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) to speak at an education summit in the Hawkeye State in July.

Christie’s planned trip to Iowa creates hope among South Carolina Republicans who want him to seek the White House this cycle, according to Henderson. “There’s a couple of my friends in the [state] House convinced he’s going to run,” she said.

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