Following days of indecision, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided not to run for president. At a scheduled press conference at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Christie told the public, “Now is not my time.”
Christie has long alluded to presidential ambitions, but has stated that he would not run until he felt in his heart that it was the right time, reported the Star-Ledger.
It’s likely that this decision didn’t come easy.
On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac University Poll found Christie to be more popular than any of the other Republican candidates, with 17 percent of Republican voters polled saying they would elect Christie. Even more shockingly, the poll found that while only 42 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for President Barack Obama, Christie got 45 percent.
As of two weeks ago, Christie appeared to be signaling that he wouldn’t run. But with Rick Perry looking increasingly like a weak candidate, and the Republican voter base fearful that Mitt Romney doesn’t possess the leadership qualities necessary to defeat Obama in 2012, GOP heavyweights have been calling Christie all week encouraging him to run, reported CBS News.
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NJToday talks to politicians, including former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean about Christie’s decision not to run and his political future. Video courtesy of NJToday.
Political insiders have been largely in agreement that Christie’s decision will please his constituents in New Jersey.
“He did well today. To be candid, aside from his ability to govern, he’s really put New Jersey on the front page,” said Mike Murphy, a strategist for the Democratic Part, on NJToday.
Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean agreed.
“I think it helps him in a number of ways. He doesn’t have to get into this awful mess of presidential debates. And he’s got a kind of national prestige, now,” Kean told NJToday. “When he calls a cabinet, he’s going to get a call back. And we haven’t had a governor like that in a long time.”
Kean added that if Christie continues to be a good governor, a 2016 presidential run will be very possible.
CBS News went so far as to call Christie a “heartthrob” of the Republican Party — a reference to Conservative voters’ admiration for the governor’s straight-talking approach, and decisive budget-cutting practices. Christie’s record and political style would put him in a strategic spot, since Perry has been dodging questions about a bill he signed supporting illegal immigrants and some GOP operatives fear Romney lacks charisma.
But Christie’s platform tends to veer in a libertarian direction. He’s as fiscally conservative as mainstream candidates come, as evidenced by his support of sweeping budget cuts, but on social issues he’s quite lax. Just take a look at his stance on medical marijuana. That will help him reach out to swing voters in a race against Obama, but will open him up to easy attack in the primary.
If he did run, Christie would be risking quite a bit. It’s certainly not unprecedented for a governor to run for President. George W. Bush did it. Clinton did it. Rick Perry’s doing it. But if he didn’t win the primary, he’d risk seriously alienating New Jersey voters, reported the New York Times. In 2005, many GOP leaders pushed Christie to run, but he said that he wasn’t finished with his current job.
Another issue that’s been gaining increasing attention, concerns Christie’s weight. A big — no pun intended — question was whether national voters would perceive a hypocritical gap between Christie’s repeated calls for fiscal discipline and his personal obesity?
Michael Kinsey, writing for Bloomberg News, noted that while more Americans than ever are obese, people still want President as a role model, and that includes how he or she treats their body.
Oh well. Christie might have been an exciting introduction to the campaign trail, but in New Jersey there’s still work to be done. Christie has five years to mull over his next move.