SECAUCUS, New Jersey — Here in New Jersey there’s one presence you can’t avoid when you look at the local newspapers: Governor Chris Christie. And unlike in the past a lot of the stories now on the front pages are about the political melodrama now unfolding: will he or won’t he? Is he poised to cannonball himself into the 2012 Republican nomination battle? A series of reports over the weekend suggested he is seriously considering it — and local papers’ coverage reflects that as well well.
But were those leaks? Or stories aimed to create a groundswell so he would have to enter?
One of the most convincing reports about his impending decision comes from Fox News: it says he has decided. And the answer is NO:
Chris Christie say he has finally made a definitive decision, once and for all, not to run for president in 2012, sources close to the New Jersey governor told Fox News on Tuesday.
Despite the intensity that has heightened in recent days as the New Jersey governor prepares to deliver a speech Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, several people close to the governor insist he has not changed his mind to forego a presidential bid.
Christie is on tour, attending seven fundraisers in three states, which has fueled speculation that he could be preparing for a 2012 bid. And some people near the governor have been trying very hard — however futilely, it would appear — to convince him to get in the race, especially after last week’s debate GOP showed the field is still open.
Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Sept. 11 commission co-chairman who has reportedly known Christie since he was a teenager, fired up the chatter on Monday, when he told The National Review Online that “the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks ago” that Christie could run.
“I know he’s getting advice from all sides,” Kean told NRO, adding that Christie will make clear soon whether he’s changed his mind.
“He’s not going to tease anybody,” Kean said.
But a source close to the governor says the fundraisers have been planned for months and do not indicate a change in his attitude towards a 2012 run. And another source told Fox News that the Kean story is “off-base.”
The governor’s brother told The Star-Ledger Tuesday that Christie hasn’t changed his mind.
“I’m sure that he’s not going to run,” Todd Christie told the newspaper. “If he’s lying to me, I’ll be as stunned as I’ve ever been in my life.”
Vice President Biden offered words of praise for Christie during an appearance Tuesday on ABC’s “The View,” prompting Barbara Walters to ask him whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat.
“I like him,” he said, adding that “New Jersey is a big important state. He’s at the top of his game right now.”
The professional pundits and talking heads have been having a field day with the Christie story. Why, if he doesn’t go now, his chance will never come again. REALITY: fat chance — he will be a top contender if he decides to go for it in 2016, even if Jeb Bush gets into it by then. Why, these conditions will never come again. REALITY: If he does get into it (and nothing is certain until he says the words himself) he will be vetted and tested unlike he has been before.
America’s political history is filled with politicos who the conventional wisdom viewed as political hot properties — former Texas Gov. John Connelly, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the late Maine Senator Ed Muskie, actor Fred Thompson, Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who were described as powerhouse shoo-ins and their parties just HAD to nominate them. But once they got into the fray they found the water was a lot colder than they thought.
And then there’s this: Christie will emerge a top Republican national figure if he does not run because of all the attention and (for now) partisan love being shoved his way.
If he doesn’t run the operative question will be this:
Can Bill Kristol rebound from a broken heart?