Christie Back Again in Iowa; 2016 on Mind?

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) -

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, returning to Iowa to headline one of the biggest events on the state’s political calendar, criticized President Obama in a fiery speech Saturday that sounded like the early makings of a presidential pitch.

“America used to control events both here at home and around the world. And now it seems that our fate is being dictated to us by others,” Christie said. “It is because of the lack of leadership that we have in the White House. It has been six long years, but I bring you good news: There are only two more years left,”

Christie was the featured speaker at fellow GOP Gov. Terry Branstad’s birthday bash outside Des Moines. Earlier in the day Christie attended Rep. Steve King’s annual pheasant hunt lunch in Akron, giving him the chance to meet with Republican activists and fundraisers.

The visit was Christie’s third in recent times to the state, and Christie announced that he’ll be back in Iowa once against on Thursday — despite Branstad’s double-digit lead in polls.

While the state’s Republican voters are generally seen as more conservative than Christie’s natural base, he has forged strong ties with some important operatives.

“I’m strongly supporting him,” said Jim Kersten, a former state senator who joined other Iowa powerbrokers on a mission to New Jersey in 2011 to try to lure the governor into running against Obama.