In mentioning Dan Balz’s new 2012 campaign book earlier, I didn’t mean to imply that “moments” in a campaign, while rarely as big a deal as their breathless chroniclers imply, can’t signify larger realities. Politico‘s Lois Romano gives us Balz’s account of the courtship of Chris Christie by “heavy hitters” urging him to get into the race that features this moment:

Christie arrived with his wife and a top aide, all of whom were flabbergasted to find 60 heavy hitters in the room, not to mention those who were conferenced in by phone. Christie recalled: “All of a sudden you hear John Mack [ former CEO of Morgan Stanley] on the phone. [Home Depot’s Langone] says ‘David Koch is out of the county. David, are you there?’”

In the end, [Henry] Kissinger was asked to speak for the group. He told Christie he had known many presidents. “Being a successful president is about two things, courage and character,” Kissinger is quoted as saying. “You have both and your country needs you.” Christie told the group he was unlikely to run but promised them he would seriously explore the possibility. And that he did.

This anecdote tells me less about Chris Christie than about the anxiety of “heavy hitters” looking at a presidential field composed of Mitt Romney and bunch of circus clowns.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.