Like Sarah Palin, Chris Christie has been content to stay on the sidelines during the Republican primary season as supporters cheer for him to enter the game. But those who dream of a Christie campaign—like the woman at last night’s Reagan Library appearance who begged him to run—would be wise to read Jason Zengerle’s 2010 New York magazine profile of the charismatic New Jersey governor. As Zengerle wrote in “The Answer Is No”: “Christie and his advisers have insisted a 2012 presidential bid isn’t in the cards. ‘Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running,’” Christie is quoted as saying.
And as Jason Fagone reported in his 2010 Philadelphia magazine profile, Christie’s own family knows he’s not interested in the White House right now: “Christie turned to his seven-year-old daughter, Bridget, ‘Would you like your daddy to be president of the United States?’ ‘I don’t have an answer for that,’ Bridget said. ‘Someone prepared her,” the Today show reporter said, laughing. ‘On message!’ Christie said.”
Part of Christie’s appeal, as Matt Bai wrote in The New York Times Magazine, is that he is fighter who is supremely aware of his strengths and weaknesses. “He likes to present himself as the proverbial bull in the china shop,” Bai wrote, “the ungainly, somewhat boorish guy who lacks the artifice to keep from saying whatever obvious truth pops into his head. ‘I don’t think you elected me because of my charm and good looks,’ Christie likes to say, just to show he’s in on the joke.”
Nor is he naïve about the consequences of not running in 2012 and not being reelected in New Jersey—a blow that would almost certainly doom his White House chances in 2016. But as Christie told The Daily Beast’s John Avlon last month: “’I don’t worry about reelection. I feel like I’m playing with house money anyway. Nobody expected me to win this race,’ Christie explains with the candor of a politician not running for president. ‘The more I start thinking about reelection and trying to calculate either my actions or my decisions based upon that, I’m probably moving closer and closer to not getting reelected. Be myself, be who I am, let the chips fall where they may.’”