SIMI VALLEY, California (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Tuesday again rebuffed a growing chorus of Republican pleas for him to enter the 2012 White House race.
Christie, a first-term governor who has insisted for months that he is staying out of the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, was asked about his intentions following a speech at Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.
He answered by telling his audience to look at a video montage posted on the Politico.com website of many previous remarks by him ruling out a presidential bid next year.
“Everyone go to Politico.com. It’s right on the front page. I’m not going to bore you with it now. Click on it, those are the answers. Next question,” Christie said, drawing a groan from many in an audience, which included former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Republicans have clamored for Christie to run because of their unease at the party’s front-runner Rick Perry, who had a poor debate last week, and Mitt Romney, seen by conservatives as too liberal.
President Barack Obama has dropped in opinion polls, some of which show Romney beating him, due to high unemployment, but he is far ahead of Republicans in the campaign finance race.
Speculation about a possible late entry by Christie gained new intensity this week after his long-time informal adviser, former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, said Christie was thinking “very seriously” about becoming a presidential candidate.
His appearance at the Reagan library for a speech on political leadership was widely viewed as an ideal opportunity for the blunt-talking governor and former federal prosecutor to announce his entry into a field of Republican candidates with whom many in the party are dissatisfied.
During a question-and-answer session after his speech, one woman in the audience stood to deliver an impassioned appeal for Christie to change his mind and run, telling him, “We need you, your country needs you,” drawing a standing ovation.
Christie responded that he was honored, and found such pleas “extraordinarily flattering.”
“But by the same token, that heart-felt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me,” he said.
“I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment to lead our country.”
Time is running out for Christie to change his mind. Registration for competing in the Florida primary election closes at the end of next month.
Writing by Steve Gorman; editing by Alistair Bell and Mohammad Zargham