Sixteen names confirmed for Agriculture Summit, several opt out

Alex Hanson

Add New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Governor George Pataki to the list of potential presidential candidates coming to Iowa in March for the inaugural Iowa Agriculture Summit.

Organizers announced Monday that Christie and Pataki would join a list of 14 other Republicans attending the event, which is being hosted by Iowa entrepreneur and philanthropist Bruce Rastetter.

“Governor Christie’s recent appearances in Iowa, including his visit to West Des Moines [Feb. 9th], have drawn tremendous interest in Iowa and around the country. I appreciate his decision to appear at the Iowa Agriculture Summit,” Rastetter said in a news release.

Christie was a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey from 2002 until 2008. In 2009, Christie was elected Governor of New Jersey and later reelected by a wide margin in 2013.

Pataki served in the New York legislature beginning in 1980s and later unseated Incumbent New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in the 1994 election. Pataki served until 2006. Pataki has said publically that he is “seriously” considering a run in 2016.

“I’m sure Iowans and others will look forward to hearing Gov. Pataki’s perspective on a range of agricultural and economic issues,” Rastetter said.

Also confirmed for the event are former governors Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, former Sen. Rick Santorum, businessman Donald Trump and Gov. Scott Walker.

Attendees will appear on stage with Rastetter for 20 minutes to discuss a wide-range of agriculture topics.

Several Iowa Republicans will also attend, including Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and U.S. Reps. Steve King and David Young and former U.S. Rep. Tom Latham.

Several guests that were invited have decided not to attend or have yet to RSVP.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will be in Iowa twice in the coming months, will not be attending, his office confirmed on Monday.

A spokesperson for O’Malley said he has prior commitments.

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who attended Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit in January, has prior commitments, a spokesperson said Monday, adding, “She is disappointed to miss it.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was in Ames over the weekend, has yet to RSVP, but a spokesperson said Monday they are still “sorting out” the Senator’s schedule.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will not be attending the event, a spokesperson said Tuesday morning, but noted that Sanders’ will be in Iowa for a three-day trip in the coming weeks.

Requests for comment from several other invited speakers’ offices were not returned as of Tuesday.

Organizers have invited Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Ben Carson, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

The Summit will take place March 7 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.