Chris Christie Wins Over Voter in Iowa With Free Debate Ticket

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie autographs a campaign sign as his wife Mary Pat looks on during a campaign stop, Dec. 19, 2015, in Exeter, N.H.PlayMary Schwalm/AP Photo
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One 20-year-old voter in Iowa presented Chris Christie with a wager: If the New Jersey governor could get him a ticket to tonight’s GOP debate in Iowa, he would caucus for him on Feb. 1.

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“You’re in my top three of candidates. You would be number one if I could a ticket to the Republican debate on the 28th,” Sam Kuznetsov, a finance student at the University of Iowa, challenged Christie at a campaign event in Sioux City earlier this month.

Christie agreed to the wager.

“Write down your name and number, and I’ll see what I can do,” Christie told him. “I like your boldness. I like that. I like people who ask for what they want.”

“I figured why not try it and see what happens,” Kuznetsov told ABC News. “It was something that you might as well try to ask.”

A Christie campaign staffer approached Kuznetsov to get his contact information. But it wasn’t until this Tuesday that Kuznetsov got the call he had been waiting for: the Christie campaign had secured him a ticket to the debate.

Christie’s Iowa political director Kevin Poindexter wanted to make sure that Kuznetsov was still planning to follow through on his end of the bargain.

“[He] just asked if I would be caucusing for [Christie] … and then asked if I was still interested,” Kuznetsov recalled of his phone conversation with Poindexter.

Kuznetsov said he had listened to all of the Republican candidates' pitches in Iowa. He had considered throwing his support behind Tex Cruz or Donald Trump but said he liked Christie’s direct tone and agreed with Christie's values and policy proposals.

But ultimately it was the debate ticket that tipped the scale for Kuznetsov. And now, he said, he’s looking forward to tonight's debate.

“I’m thrilled to get to go, I think it’s awesome,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s pretty rare for somebody to say yeah and actually give you one.”