NBC's Jamie Gangel reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided to not run for president in 2012.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will announce that he will not run for president at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, sources told NBC News.
The Christie camp announced earlier that the governor would be making an announcement at a 1 p.m. EDT. NBC News' Jamie Gangel confirmed late Tuesday morning that the governor would make clear that he's not making a White House bid.
Despite his insistence for the better part of 2011 that he wouldn't run – Christie joked in February that he didn't know what he could do to convince people he's not running, "short of suicide" – the New Jersey firebrand spent the better part of the past two weeks reconsidering his stance against seeking the presidency.
A previously-planned speech last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, at which Christie didn't to rule out running despite the audience literally imploring him to run, only sent speculation about his ambitions to a fever pitch.
All the while, Christie has received open encouragement from deep-pocketed donors and party luminaries who have argued that Christie's affable, if blunt, style would make him the best Republican to take on President Barack Obama next fall. "I think Chris Christie has been the guy that can get the conservatives on our side, but also take states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and he can cut into the blue collar ethnic unions," Republican New York Rep. Peter King said last year.
Christie's reconsideration has been driven by lingering uncertainty among Republican voters about the party's current stable of presidential candidates, especially front runners Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Rick Perry, the conservative governor of Texas. Romney has performed well in polls of GOP voters' preference in a nominee, but has struggled to build on his early advantage in the primary campaign. Many conservatives had looked to Perry as an alternative to Romney, but the Texas governor's stumbles in recent debates, combined with questions about his record on immigration and Social Security, have raised doubts about Perry's candidacy.
"There are a lot of guys with a Romney bumper sticker on their desk, but are waiting to put it on their car," a Republican tied to the party's fund raising circuit said last week of the Christie waiting game.
Republicans beckoned toward a variety of potential GOP saviors to make a late entry into the campaign throughout the summer and early fall, but have failed to lure them into the race. "Very tough to put together a national campaign with just a few months to go before Iowa, New Hampshire, and the like," said Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who received such encouragement, Tuesday on KPRC radio.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday found that Christie would be just as competitive against Obama as Romney or Perry; in a head-to-head matchup, Obama and Christie would be tied at 45 percent among registered voters. Adding to the encouraging numbers, 42 percent of Republican-leaning Americans said they would like to see Christie seek the GOP's nomination in 2012, while 34 percent oppose a bid by the New Jersey governor.
But that doesn't mean that Christie would have entered the race as an immediate favorite. Romney would still lead among Republicans, at 21 percent, according to the same poll, followed by Perry and pizza magnate Herman Cain at 14 percent. Christie would enter the primary campaign with the support of 10 percent of Republicans, the poll found.