(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will not jump into the 2012 presidential race, a high-level Republican source said.
Republicans and deep-pocketed businessmen have for weeks been urging Christie to run for the Republican nomination against President Barack Obama.
Growing unease over front-runner Rick Perry’s lackluster performance in recent debates and the view that Mitt Romney is too moderate for the conservative Republican base fueled speculation around Christie’s presidential ambitions.
Here are some facts about Christie:
* Known as brutally frank, Christie, 49, rose up Republican ranks after establishing himself as a fiscally conservative governor. He has persistently said he would not enter the presidential race. “What, short of suicide, do I have to do to convince people I’m not running?” he said last year.
* Christie won the gubernatorial election in New Jersey in November, 2009, riding an anti-incumbency wave against Democrat Jon Corzine. His victory energized the Republican Party’s attack on Obama’s administration during the 2010 midterm campaigns. He appeals to law-and-order conservatives but is moderate enough on social issues that he was able to win in a Democratic-leading state.
* At an estimated 300 pounds (136 kg), Christie is overweight. In late July, he was hospitalized after an asthma attack so bad that he had trouble breathing after taking his inhaler. Leaving the hospital, he said, “If I weighed less I’d be healthier. I’ve been taking it seriously. It’s one of the major struggles of my life. I’m working on it.”
* In 2001, the Bush administration picked Christie to be the U.S. attorney from New Jersey. His nomination, which was backed by Republicans and New Jersey’s Democratic Senators, was criticized by lawyers who said he lacked criminal law experience.
* As governor, Christie has aggressively attacked New Jersey Democrats, teacher and public-sector unions, while blocking tax increases and slashing government spending. He made national headlines when he closed an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget by slashing funding across the board including for education and local aid, while capping property tax hikes.
* Christie came under fire when New Jersey missed an opportunity to receive $400 million in federal funds to improve education programs. His aides sent an erroneous application for Obama’s Race to the Top education program in 2010. He first blamed the Obama administration but then acknowledged his fault and fired his education commissioner.
Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Philip Barbara