Ahead of Iowa visit, conservative group slams Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel June 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls have begun making regular pilgrimages to Iowa to court voters in the first primary state, but now one is facing a somewhat chilly reception.

Ahead of a Thursday trip to attend several Republican fundraisers, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., is being greeted by an online ad campaign from a conservative group called the Judicial Crisis Network. The ads say he's allowed New Jersey's Supreme Court to become far too liberal.

"Chris Christie promised to change New Jersey's liberal Supreme Court. Five openings later, no change. Instead, a liberal Democrat for chief justice," the narrator says in one ad. "Tell Chris Christie our country needs judges who respect the rule of law."

They are referencing a deal Christie made earlier this year in which he re-nominated Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a Democrat, in exchange for the ability to nominate Republican Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon with the support of the state Senate president. The two had locked horns over the appointment for years.

The group is spending $75,000 dollars to air the ads online and promote their website, www.christiebadonjudges.com, ahead of the trip.

Christie has made four trips to Iowa since becoming governor, according to the Bergen Record. He traveled there twice during the 2012 election to support then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, made another trip for a fundraiser in support of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and the Team Iowa PAC, and a third trip in 2011 for an education conference.

His position at the helm of the Republican Governors Association has afforded him extensive travel opportunities, including eight states that are among the first nominating contests in the presidential campaign. By the end of the summer, the paper reports, he will have appeared in four key early states -Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - continuing speculation that he will mount a presidential bid despite being dogged by the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal earlier this year.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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