Why Chris Christie Won't Run for President, despite Some GOP Pleas

Article excerpt

Rick Perry's fumbles have created an opening for a strong candidate to jump in the GOP presidential race. But Chris Christie really, truly does not seem to want to run, at least this time.

Chris Christie for president? The fumbles and foibles of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, no longer seen as the savior of the Republican presidential field, have opened up a big gaping hole for a strong candidate to jump in. And the blunt-spoken governor of New Jersey is just the guy, in the eyes of some GOP elites. It's not too late, they say. Really.

The only problem is that Governor Christie really, truly does not seem to want to run, at least this time around. Yes, Republican donors and fundraisers have been telling reporters that Christie is reconsidering, even after he once insisted that "short of suicide," he doesn't know how to convince people that he's not running. These unnamed donors are thinking wishfully, says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Certainly, though, Christie is guilty of leading us on. He takes donors' phone calls. (Of course, maybe he just doesn't want to be rude. After all, they could also donate to his reelection campaign for governor, if he runs again in 2013.) He speaks out on national issues, like the future of entitlements. On Tuesday, he's speaking at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Last week, a pro-Christie group launched a $1.5 million TV ad campaign in New York and Philadelphia, praising his leadership.

But listen to what Christie actually says about running for president, not what unnamed donors say he's saying in private. In an appearance last Thursday at New Jersey's Rider University, Christie spoke in less-than-glowing terms about the prospect of getting up at 5:30 in the morning, on a minus-15-degree day in Des Moines, to go shake hands at a meatpacking plant.

Running for president, Christie said, has got to be "something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do, but I think what you must do at that time in your life, both for you and for your country." He went on, "For me, the answer to that was, it isn't."

When Christie says that, he sounds like he means it. His heart isn't in it. And it's that honesty and authenticity that are his stock in trade. If he were to turn around now and decide to run, at this late moment, he would lose credibility.

It's also possible that Christie has learned a lesson from watching Governor Perry belly-flop on the national stage. …