(Adds Quinnipiac poll in sixth and seventh paragraphs.)
Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who spent more than a year denying he’d run for president in 2012, put an end to renewed speculation of a bid and said he won’t join the race to challenge President Barack Obama.
The 49-year-old Republican, who has been reconsidering in recent days, announced the decision during a news conference today at the state capitol in Trenton.
“My commitment to the state is what overrode everything else,” Christie said. “New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me.”
Christie has said repeatedly that he would have to “commit suicide” to convince people that he wouldn’t run, and that he didn’t feel ready to be president. Still, talk of a bid swirled after the governor used a Sept. 27 speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, to comment on foreign policy and defense, while attacking both Obama and Congress over what he called gridlock in Washington.
Republican leaders and business executives stepped up calls for the first-term governor to enter the primary field following stumbles by Rick Perry in a nationally televised debate on Sept. 22, according to a party member close to Christie who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak for him publicly.
Christie “had a serious chance to win it all,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said in a statement.
Quinnipiac released a poll of 2,118 American registered voters today which had Christie with 45 percent to Obama’s 42 percent in a 2012 general election match-up. In a hypothetical Republican primary, Christie and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney led the field with 17 percent. The poll, conducted by telephone Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
Christie rose to prominence as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, where as the state’s top federal prosecutor he racked up more than 130 convictions and guilty pleas against corrupt politicians from both parties. He beat incumbent Governor Jon Corzine in 2009, becoming the first in his party to win the office since 1997 in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 700,000.
The governor’s standing in national Republican circles grew after he cut $10 billion in projected spending on schools, public pensions and aid to cities in his first budget.
Christie’s message of lean government and tax cutting resonated with voters at a time when consumer confidence was near record lows, said Brigid Harrison, a professor of law and politics at Montclair State University. No sitting president or nominee of the same party since 1972 has won election to the White House when the consumer confidence number was below 90, she said.
The index produced by the business-backed Conference Board in New York increased to 45.4 in September from a revised 45.2 in August that was a two-year low. The reading has been less than 90 since December 2007, at the start of the longest recession since the Great Depression.
“He’s missing an opportunity,” Harrison said by telephone before Christie’s announcement. “It’s an opportunity that may not come along again and in my opinion won’t.”
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in 2016, but he won’t be the cool new kid in school -- he’ll be part of the party establishment, and there will be a new rising star,” Harrison said.
Since taking office in Trenton, Christie has raised money for Republicans in states including New York and Pennsylvania, and built up a base of support through appearances for candidates from Massachusetts to New Mexico. Last week he attended local campaign fundraisers in California, Missouri and Louisiana.
--With assistance from Elise Young in Trenton. Editors: Stacie Servetah, Ted Bunker
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