Being Moody: Showering in Palm Beach campaign cash

Palm Beach, Florida (CNN)This sliver of land off the swingiest of swing states is home to some of the wealthiest families in America -- and lots of politics.

In just the past few weeks, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker have all dropped in to make a mad dash for cash.
There's plenty of that here.
In 2012, residents of Palm Beach County -- a large swath that includes both the island and mainland -- shoveled more than $53.3 million to political action committees and candidates, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. That makes the region one of the largest providers of campaign cash. The almost surreal wealth concentrated here makes Palm Beach a crucial stop for anyone hoping to live in the White House one day.
    "There's so much money here," said Sid Dinerstein, a ubiquitous force in Palm Beach County Republican circles. "This is one of the places you go. You go to Manhattan, you go to Hollywood and you come here."
    The uber-wealth was on display recently at a rooftop party in West Palm Beach overlooking the island and a dock crowded with yachts.
    About 20 Republican donors gathered over a spread of raw vegan wraps for an afternoon of mingling and political shop talk. The event, hosted by real estate investor Philip Nicozisis, was part of a series of social meetings for donors who gave at least $1,000 to the Palm Beach County Republican Party. Their generosity grants them access to exclusive events, where they can meet special guests and mingle with local officials.
    The fundraiser was essentially a ritzy pre-party for the big show: the annual Lincoln Day dinner, a grand evening at Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago club and hotel featuring a keynote speech from Christie.
    Christie was in full-on campaign mode, urging the audience not to consider the Republican presidential primary over before it begins.
    "You're going to see article after article purporting that Republicans can't afford a long nomination battle. That we need to unite behind whichever candidate who has the most money or the most endorsements or the best press coverage. But remember, George H.W. Bush fought Ronald Reagan for the nomination until May of 1980," Christie said. "We are 20 months from electing our next president. So, calm down. Don't be afraid."
    The truth is Palm Beach could be especially difficult terrain for outsiders heading into 2016. Two Floridians -- Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio -- could crowd out other candidates. Bush, the former governor, is seen as holding the best hand.
    Still, Michael Barnett, the newly-elected Palm Beach County GOP Chairman, warned against underestimating possible candidates like Christie, despite Bush's power in the state.
    "I think Gov. Christie has a history of breaking into those circles as an outsider," he said. "He did so in New Jersey, winning election and re-election. Whether it's reaching out to minority communities as he did in his home state, or whether it's reaching out to 600 of our most wealthiest and most powerful Palm Beach and South Florida donors."
    Now the question for Christie and others is, how many of them will open their pocketbooks?