A group of Iowa businessmen urged New Jersey governor Chris Christie to run for president during a dinner at the governor's mansion yesterday, underscoring a sense of unease about the potential weakness of the current field of candidates.

Christie has become a popular figure in the Republican party for his aggressive commitment to slashing spending while hewing to party orthodoxy in refusing to raise taxes and taking on public employee unions. He has repeatedly responded to entreaties by saying that he is not ready to run.

Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa Republican and entrepeneur who attended the party, said Christie reiterated this position while agreeing to speak at an Iowa event in July.

He understands the country's problems but feels very strongly that he has that commitment to New Jersey to continue to serve, Rastetter told the Des Moines register.

Even if he is not contemplating a national campaign, Christie showed a flair for dramatic public appearances yesterday when he used a state helicopter to attend his son's baseball game.