Christie: 'Now is Not My Time'
Governor says he will not be a candidate for GOP presidential nomination
Saying that "Now is not my time," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.
Standing at a podium in the Statehouse in Trenton, Christie said he believed he owed it to the people of New Jersey to continue as governor. "It's never felt right ... to me in my gut to leave here when the job is not finished," he said.
But Christie did not rule out a run for the presidency in the future, telling an NBC News reporter that "I'm not going to preclude any job whether president or working at NBC."
The governor had repeatedly said he would not join the GOP campaign, but reports continued to surface in recent weeks that he was re-considering, under pressure from numerous Republican leaders unhappy with the current list of candidates.
Christie said his wife and four children had been supportive in a possible campaign. "Mary Pat woke me up a few days ago at 6 o'clock in the morning and told me, 'If you want to go for it, go for it,' " he said.
He said other candidates did not make a presidential run appealing, saying that those who had lost described the experience as "a nightmare," while those who won agreed that it was "awful."
Meanwhile, at Hobby's Deli on Branford Place in Newark, nearly 35 people gathered to eat lunch and watch Christie's announcement. When the governor said he would not run for president, the lunchers seemed unfazed.
Tim Carroll, 46, of Bloomfield, said he's not surprised by the decision, "He has a lot of hot air, but he'd be a breath of fresh air (compared to Obama)."
Cheryl Kavka, 42, of Bethlehem Township, said Christie always stated he would not run, "I thought he made it quite clear and I think it's a non-issue."
At Newark City Hall, officials with Mayor Cory Booker stayed tight-lipped Tuesday when asked whether the mayor plans to run for governor in 2013 — a move some had speculated even before Christie's back-and-forth presidential plans.
Kimberly DeHaarte, a Booker spokeswoman, said, "Cory Booker is committed to serving Newark residents as the mayor of the city of Newark."
The 42-year-old mayor has long been seen as a rising political star and has been rumored to be considering a run for Christie's job or for national office. In June, Booker filed papers to form a political action committee. It was then thought Booker was eyeing a run for U.S. Senate, but he has since said his current plans are to stay in Newark.
Back in Trenton, the governor didn't resist an opportunity to take a swipe at President Obama, saying the president had "failed the leadership test." But he said it was too early for him to make any endorsement of any of the current GOP contenders.
Christie said he had been amused by the attention he had received, including from comedians who made jokes about his weight. "It's fair game, they can make fun of it," Christie said, "provided it's funny." He said his son Andrew had even taken to showing him video clips of items he'd missed "So he's been grounded," Christie quipped.
The governor indicated he would not be interested in the GOP nomination for vice president, saying he did not see himself as a "No. 2 kind of guy."
The pressure has intensified in recent days for the governor to make a decision after both Florida and South Carolina moved up the dates for their party primary to January, leaving only three months of campaigning before the actual selection of delegates begins.
Christie's announcement comes the same day as a new poll shows him in fourth place nationally in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, business executive Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
— Steve Johnson and Joshua Wilwohl