Republicans eager to see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enter the party’s presidential nominating race were sorely disappointed Tuesday when he announced that he definitely has decided to sit this one out.
“I’ve been adamant about the fact that I would not run for president. My language was clear and direct. No matter how many times I was asked the question, for me the answer was never anything but no,” Christie said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “My job here in N.J. is my passion. I’ve always meant it when I said I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have this job.”
Entering the race so late in the game would have been a very big challenge, given how much catching up he would have to do in terms of building a campaign infrastructure and raising money. But despite how “adamant” he’s been, there’s no question that he had been seriously reconsidering during the past several days.
“My commitment to the state is what overrode everything else,” Christie said. “People sent me here to get a job done. New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me.”
In addition, Christie is not the firebrand conservative, and the Tea Party movement, which has pushed other candidates farther right than they already are, would have been deeply disappointed by the moderate positions he has taken on such issues as gun control and abortion rights. Like Mitt Romney before him, he has done what he had to do to win office in a Democratic-leaning state.
The question now is whether reluctant Republicans will try harder to accept Mitt Romney, who has been moving up in the polls as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has started to decline. In addition, in poll after poll, he is the candidate who is most competitive in a matchup against President Obama.
There also is the possibility that Rick Perry, who can more easily consolidate the conservative base needed to win upcoming key primary races, will learn from recent mistakes, improve his debate performance and prove that he can be a national candidate so that he can get a second look.
However it goes, as political analyst Charlie Cook said, citing his grandmother at a forum on the 2012 presidential outlook before Christie’s announcement, at some point Republicans are going to have to “put on their big girl or big boy” pants and support a nominee.
Separately, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll has Herman Cain tied Perry for second place behind front-runner Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Romney is at 25 percent while Cain and Perry each get 16 percent. The numbers reflect a 13-point drop for Perry and a 12-point rise for Cain since early last month.
(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)