President Obama is fighting hard to woo back the hedge fund bigwigs who lavished his campaign with millions of dollars in 2008. But since the industry is still smarting from an Obama-driven push for large-scale reforms of their business, it appears that hedge fund managers are looking to hitch their wagons to another candidate next year.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be their man - if only they could convince him to get in the race. According to Hedgefund.net, Paul Tudor of Tudor Investments; Stanley Druckenmiller of the defunct Duquesne Capital; David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, and Pennant Capital Management founder Alan Fournier would all like to see a Christie presidency.
But despite being the apple of their wanting eyes, Christie continues to insist he's not running. Earlier this year the governor gave his potential primary opponents a golden sound byte when he reportedly said, "You have to believe in you're heart you're personally ready to be president and I'm not there."
Hedge fund managers have been shying away from backing Obama's 2012 presidential run in opposition to his calls for regulation of the hedge fund industry. Obama has been trying to bring them back into his election fold while at the same time calling for an elimination of a tax break for hedge fund and private equity managers as part of the debt ceiling talks.
But Christie when entertaining offers to become a candidate, whether from Iowa businessmen or hedge fund bigwigs, keeps repeating the mantra that he is not running for any higher office. He did so again at the Manhattan meeting when he said, "I'm not running, but I came because Langone is so aggressive, he basically just physically shook me into doing it."
Of course Obama gave similar demurrals leading up to the launch of his candidacy in 2007. But perhaps Christie is making a wise move in sitting out. Because as they say, Democrats fall in love while Republicans fall in line. And that history leads me to believe that despite his vulnerabilities, Mitt Romney will be the conservative standard bearer in 2012.
On another note, I doubt the Obama re-election campaign is losing any sleep over being ditched by a large chunk of the hedge fund industry. If their recent fund raising haul is any indication, at minimum the president will raise just as much money as he did the first time around.