The New Jersey governor's campaign believed it had secured a maximum contribution of $2,700 from one of the most courted Republican donors: Spencer Zwick, the national finance chairman of Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Following Christie's widely praised debate performance on Saturday night, Zwick informed the Christie campaign that he was donating to the governor's campaign, according to two senior Republicans who told The Washington Post about the contribution on Monday morning on the condition of anonymity. The Post subsequently reported on the donation, citing the two officials.
But it turns out Zwick did not follow through with the donation. On Monday morning, when Zwick was intending to make the donation to Christie official, he got cold feet and decided he should maintain his neutrality in the presidential contest.
"I have been and continue to be neutral in the race," Zwick said in an interview on Monday afternoon.
Zwick is chairman of America Rising, a super PAC and opposition research group with the chief aim of discrediting Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. He also serves as finance chairman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is neutral in the presidential race.
Zwick said that he initially agreed to donate to Christie's campaign after Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, called him last week asking him to support the governor. Zwick told Whitman he would be willing to donate because of his long friendship with Whitman, though he concluded on Monday that he could not do so without declaring an allegiance in the race.
Romney steadfastly has remained unaligned throughout the 2016 race and has publicly praised a number of other candidates in addition to Christie, including Rubio, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Many of Romney's top donors have signed on to help all four of the establishment candidates.
The two senior Republicans who initially said Zwick was donating to Christie also said that a second close Romney adviser, Bob White, a longtime friend and counselor who co-founded Bain Capital with Romney, donated $2,700 to the Christie campaign. White, however, could not be reached for comment on Monday.