TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided not to run for president, sources close to the governor said today, refusing to bow to pressure from GOP donors, fans and luminaries clamoring for another option in the search for a strong Republican to challenge President Barack Obama next fall.
His decision means that three months before voting is set to begin, the Republican race remains focused on two men — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Christie’s decision, scheduled to be announced at the New Jersey statehouse in early afternoon Tuesday, was revealed by sources close to the governor who spoke on grounds of anonymity to avoid pre-empting his announcement.
Christie, the famously blunt, budget-cutting governor in office not even two years, had spent the past few days reconsidering his long-time refusals to run for the GOP presidential nomination in light of encouragement from GOP leaders.
The governor stoked the speculation with a high-profile speech last week at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., where he reiterated that he wasn’t running for president, and a tour to help raising money for Republicans in Missouri, California and Louisiana.
Encouragement from Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush led him to reconsider a bid, and he spent the weekend thinking over his options.
Christie’s announcement comes as a new national poll shows Perry’s support dropping after weeks of defending his Texas record and businessman Herman Cain rising following a much-praised debate performance. The Washington Post-ABC survey shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney regaining the lead, though his support remains in the same place it’s been for months — the mid-20s.
The push for new candidates like Christie and the quick rise and fall of others — like Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who also flirted with a presidential bid — reflect continued discomfort in the GOP with Romney. He has been steadily campaigning since he lost in the 2008 primary but hasn’t been able to sway skeptical conservatives who make up the party base.