Apparently New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has decided he won't run. Too bad. He would have made a great President, I think. But, as it said in the New York Times:
As I said, too bad.
After a kinetic month in which some of the biggest names in American industry and Republican politics urged him to run for president, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey spent a quiet weekend at home, coming to a sobering conclusion on Tuesday: “Now is not my time.”
“New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me,” Mr. Christie said at an afternoon news briefing in Trenton in which he appeared to be reveling in the national attention his deliberations had drawn, while at the same time showing relief.
And so ended what Mr. Christie’s closest aides and associates described as a heady roller-coaster ride during which he discussed the perils of a national campaign with former President George W. Bush during a Sept. 11 Jets-Cowboys game, received a private hourlong foreign policy briefing from former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and dined with Nancy Reagan.
But he found himself dreading the prospect of winter in Iowa, conjuring an image of campaign misery at a forum two weeks ago as he imagined himself at a hotel room in Des Moines, “and its 5:30 in the morning and it’s 15 below, and it’s time for me to get up and go shake hands at the meatpacking plant.”
Mr. Christie’s decision — reached Monday night — means the Republican field is now essentially set, forcing the party to focus on those already in the race and give up on the idea that an ideal candidate continues to sit on the sidelines.
And it gave Mitt Romney in particular an opportunity to win over donors and
other potential supporters who have been waiting to see how the race takes
shape. Within hours of Mr. Christie’s announcement, Mr. Romney, the perceived front-runner, had won a commitment from Kenneth Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. Mr. Langone, a high-profile donor, had taken a leading role in urging Mr. Christie to run.
It was just three weeks ago that Mr. Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, gave him the green light for a presidential bid. But as he consulted with his top aides, his wife, and his longtime confidant, William Palatucci, the stark realities of a national campaign were coming in to sharp relief: An unsuccessful bid could make a re-election campaign for governor that much harder.
Getting a campaign together relatively late in the election season was made even tougher when Florida announced last week that it was moving its primary up to Jan. 31, prompting Iowa and New Hampshire to likely leapfrog ahead of it. That meant even less time to prepare for the first contests. But Mr. Christie’s top political aide, Michael Duhaime, was said to be confident that a campaign could be set in motion overnight and was not daunted by the logistical challenges.
And aides and friends said, beyond the challenges of a national run, the
governor was simply unable to abide all the unfinished business he would have to leave behind after less than two years in office.
As Mr. Christie said Tuesday, “I could not get by, in my mind, in my heart, the idea that I was going to leave here 20 months into my term. I just couldn’t get by that.”
The high-level campaign to persuade Mr. Christie to run came to typify the
unease that the party’s establishment and donor wings still have with the slate of candidates in the running. And Mr. Christie’s quasi-public deliberations had frozen many of the Republican Party’s most important financiers as they waited to see if he would get in.
As he deliberated, there were emotional pleas from captains of industry and
finance such as Mr. Langone and the investor Carl Icahn, as well as from voters, like a farmer from Nebraska who sent a FedEx to Mr. Christie’s home over the weekend, addressed to his children, the youngest of whom is 8. It contained a letter telling them to urge their father to make a bid and that doing so would give them a place in history, Mr. Christie said.
Mr. Langone had been among the leaders of the effort to get Mr. Christie to
enter the race, holding a meeting with the governor and dozens of other major party donors at the New York Health and Racquet Club in the summer at which Mr. Christie was said to have been taken aback by the passion of their pleas.
Aside from doubts about the Republican field of candidates, they were impressed with Mr. Christie’s public tangles with Democrats, teachers and state workers as he sought to cut state spending, not to mention his theatrical approach at public events.
But aides said the campaign to enlist him started its climb to fever pitch after former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota announced in mid-August that he was dropping out of the race, and then more so after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas received poor reviews at a Sept. 22 debate in Orlando, Fla.
But it appears she was ahead of Mr. Christie himself. Three people close to Meg Whitman, the new chief executive of Hewlett Packard, said that when she spoke with the governor in early September about holding a fund-raiser for the New Jersey Republicans in California — which she did last week — she received assurances from him that he was not running for president. Mr. Christie’s assurances to Ms. Whitman were first reported in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Bob Teeven, a friend from Mr. Christie’s student government days as an
undergraduate at the University of Delaware, said the governor had not indicated he was leaning toward a White House bid when he saw him in Wilmington on Sept. 20, when Mr. Christie received the Freedom Award from former Gov. Pete du Pont.
Mr. Perry’s poorly received debate performance came two days later, and
afterward Mr. Christie and his aides were deluged with new requests, from
powerhouse donors and voters alike, to enter the nominating battle.
His polite responses to their calls left some with the impression that he was leaning toward a run. And while his representatives denied that to reporters, it is clear that his resistance to the idea was, at the very least, softening.
Already scheduled to speak at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in
California last week, his address there — in which he called President Obama “a bystander in the Oval Office” — took on new resonance. Combined with a series of fund-raisers across the country, the trip — and the boisterous reception he received from crowds — made an impression on him, and caused him to begin reassessing his denials one last time, aides acknowledged in interviews.
As Mr. Christie said on Tuesday, “When you have serious people from across the spectrum, not to mention from all across the country, passionately calling on you to do something as consequential as running for president of the United States, I felt an obligation to earnestly consider their advice.”
Also, friends said, he no longer seemed to have the same misgivings about his own readiness for the Oval Office. Jerry Zaro, a friend of Mr. Christie’s, said that a half-term on the job, and one legislative victory after another, “It’s taught him — it’s shown him — that he’s got the goods.”
Yet even now, there are no reports that Mr. Christie ever came very close to deciding to plunge in. During a fund-raising event in Louisiana on Thursday with Gov. Bobby Jindal, he made it clear that he did not have an appetite for the long stretches of time on the road that would take him away from his children, said Jason P. Doré, the executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party. He said Mr. Christie spoke about “his son missing him after being gone for the three days on the road, and that he needed to get back.”
Mr. Christie said his family was prepared to support a White House bid and
insisted on Tuesday that the decision was his alone. “I came back to the same place that I was in the whole last year when everyone was asking me, which was I don’t want to leave this job,” he said. “And it’s just never felt right to me to leave. And so I didn’t.”
As I said, too bad.