But it was not meant to be, at least not in this cycle. In his announcement Tuesday, Christie spoke repeatedly about the sense of obligation he felt to New Jersey, and to the office he ran for and won. He spoke of the deluge of pleas he had received from Americans, including a Fedex he received from a farmer in Nebraska explaining to Christie’s children that the nation needed their father.
Christie said his wife and children supported the idea of his running for president, if that was what he wanted to do. In the end, he said, he wanted to keep his commitment to the Garden State.
“My job here in New Jersey is my passion,” he said. “I’ve always meant it when I’ve said I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have this job. I’m doing a job that I love, in the state I grew up in, on behalf of the toughest and greatest people in this country.”
Christie would have entered the race as top contender. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed a fair amount of interest in a Christie candidacy among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Forty-two percent said they wanted him to run. Among the rest, 34 percent said they did not want him to run, and 24 percent either had no opinion or did not know.
Perhaps 42 percent was not a groundswell, but a lot of Americans are still not focused on the race. As a candidate, Christie would have gotten major media attention and could have built up a constituency quickly. When included in a hypothetical primary matchup with the rest of the GOP field, the Post-ABC poll found Christie got 10 percent, behind Romney (21 percent), businessman Herman Cain (16 percent), and Perry (16 percent).
Without Christie in the race, Romney still polls first – but at only 25 percent. The lack of a consensus among GOP voters and Perry’s fading star have left a clear opening for a new, strong candidate. But with Christie’s opt-out, the GOP field is likely set.