Published September 27, 2011
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."
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Monday tried to put to rest any speculation that Christie's speech at the Reagan Library -- part of the Perspectives on Leadership forum -- indicates any plans for higher office.
"I think the governor started something two years ago and we've got much further along in our agenda than we anticipated," said Guadagno, who was serving as the acting governor all week while Christie tours Missouri, Lousiana and California. "I could easily get used to this, but I don't think the governor is going to run for president."
A new poll shows Gov. Chris Christie's approval rating in the state has bounced back after taking a dip this spring during the state budget battles. The Fairleigh Dickinson-PublicMind poll released Tuesday shows 54 percent approve of the way Christie is handling his job; 36 percent disapprove. That's up from up from May when 44 percent both approved and disapproved of Christie's handling of his job. The polling came on the heels of praise for Christie for his handling of the response to Hurricane Irene in August.
Christie's entry would come as discomfiture grows over the Republican pool of candidates, including toward frontrunner Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's faced tough criticism for his debate performance. Businessman Herman Cain's blowout victory in the Florida straw poll on Friday showed that it's anybody's race.
Earlier this week, Christie himself fueled the speculation when he told an audience at New Jersey's Rider University that neither Democratic leaders nor the GOP crop is satisfying the public's desire for real leadership.
"I think what the country is thirsting for, more than anything else right now, is someone of stature and credibility to tell them that and say, 'Here's where I want us to go to deal with this crisis,'" said Christie, who appeared with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
"The fact that nobody yet who's running for president, in my view, has done that effectively is why you continue to hear people ask (Daniels) if he'll reconsider and ask me if I'll reconsider," he said.
Christie's three-state, weeklong tour is being paid for by each state's GOP organization, and the fundraising will benefit the New Jersey Republican Party.
"Gov. Christie's strong and refreshing approach to solving the challenging issues facing New Jersey has earned him support from voters across New Jersey and America," said state GOP spokesman Rick Gorka.
The tour started Monday in Missouri with a $10,000-a-plate luncheon fundraiser for the New Jersey state party at the Ritz Carlton. Monday night, he headlined the Missouri Republican Party's annual dinner, the group's largest fundraiser of the year. After a breakfast for former Missouri Republican state party chairman Ann Wagner, who is running for Congress, Christie was headed to Simi Valley for his speech at the Reagan Library followed by three more fundraisers -- in Santa Ana and Beverly Hills.
Melissa Giller with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said former first lady Nancy Reagan sent Christie an invitation to speak in January. He is the latest guest in a line-up that has included Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Speakers are invited to address "issues of the day," Giller said, which often "depends on what they are promoting."
Christie's spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said in a statement that the governor's speech will focus on American "exceptionalism" and "uses President Reagan's transformative leadership to depict how the United States' role and significance in the world is defined by who we are at home."
Wednesday night, Christie will attend a small dinner at the home of Meg Whitman, the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., who lost in November to Democrat Jerry Brown in the governor's race. Tickets go from $15,000 to $25,000 a couple. Christie campaigned for Whitman last year, saying she took her inspiration from him.
In Louisiana on Thursday, Christie will appear with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal at a Republican fundraiser, where tickets range from $10,000 to $100,000.
Jindal campaigned for Christie in 2009 and the two have remained friends. Jindal has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.