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Christie said to be rethinking a run

N.J. governor will decide soon, associates say

Governor Chris Christie changed the form of his denials about a White House bid during a gathering Tuesday in California. Governor Chris Christie changed the form of his denials about a White House bid during a gathering Tuesday in California. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)
By Beth DeFalco
Associated Press / October 1, 2011

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TRENTON, N.J. - Governor Chris Christie is reconsidering his decision to stay out of the race for the White House next year and is expected to settle it soon, according to several people close to New Jersey’s chief executive.

Christie has long said he will not be running next year. But those close to the first-term Republican governor, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, say he is rethinking his stance.

A change would have to come soon, with filing deadlines in primary states weeks away.

Calls have been intensifying from top GOP donors and party elders for Christie to jump into the race. President Obama’s weak approval ratings and a Republican field struggling to put forward a clear front-runner also are creating an opening for him.

However, several GOP latecomers have jumped in to a big initial splash, only to tread water.

Michele Bachmann initially leapfrogged ahead of Mitt Romney, only to be pushed back when Governor Rick Perry of Texas joined the field in August after months of insisting he had no interest. But with two shaky performances at debates, Perry also seems vulnerable.

Unlike Perry, Christie is most at home on a podium and seems to relish debate.

Christie has been asked about his presidential aspirations practically since taking the oath of office in January 2010. But he has swatted down the idea repeatedly, consistently, and colorfully.

His list of reasons why he would not run include because he was not ready, because his wife would not let him, and because “I’m not crazy, that’s why.’’ A more famous reply came about a year ago when Christie said that “short of suicide,’’ he wasn’t sure what he could do to convince people that he’s not running.

But after a whirlwind week campaigning and fund-raising in Missouri, Louisiana, and California, which included a speech Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in which the characteristically blunt Christie repeatedly criticized Obama, he started to dial back his denials. He stopped saying he was not ready to be president and started referring reporters to previous statements.

When asked about running, Christie urged a capacity audience gathered at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., to look at the website Politico, which had pieced together a long string of video clips of him saying he is not a candidate for the White House.

“Those are the answers,’’ Christie told the crowd.

He later said he was flattered by suggestions that he should run in 2012, but added, “that reason has to reside inside me.

“And so, my answer to you is just this: I thank you for what you are saying, and I take it in and I’m listening to every word of it, and feeling it to,’’ he added.

But after the speech, Christie’s inner circle clamped down, and he did not make any other public comments about it.

A large part of Christie’s hesitation to run has been his family. He has four children, ages 8 to 18. At a Sept. 22 event with Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who was also courted but said no to joining the race, Christie said it just was not the right time.

“It’s got to be something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do, but I think what you must do at that time in your life, both for you and for your country,’’ said Christie, 49. “And for me, the answer to that is that it isn’t.’’

But he and his wife have been reassured that White House life is not that bad. Months ago, Barbara Bush called Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, to encourage her to think about a presidential campaign.

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