Reporting Ben Simmoneau
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not running for president – at least not now.
“Now is not my time,” the governor told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the Statehouse in Trenton. He says he still has work to do as New Jersey Governor.
“The deciding factor was it just did not feel right to me in my gut to leave now, when the job here isn’t finished,” he said. “I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon. That’s the promise that I made to the people of this state when I took office 20 months ago – to fix a broken New Jersey.”
Christie spoke for a few minutes, announcing the decision he says he made Monday night and then took questions from dozens of reporters for nearly an hour. As many as 21 television cameras crowded the Governor’s Outer Office as the press conference was carried live on cable and broadcast television, including CBS 3.
“New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me,” he said.
For months, Christie has faced mounting pressure to get into the presidential race from everyday voters and high-powered Republicans – some with deep pockets – who are unsatisfied with the current field of GOP candidates. The governor says he started reconsidering his decision about three weeks ago with the backing of his wife and children.
He says he was touched by the outpouring of support, especially a letter sent from a farmer in Nebraska to his children over this past weekend.
He asked “my children to sit me down, and tell me that it was okay to miss their games and their concerts and events because our country needed me more,” Christie said.
Ultimately, it was not the logistics of putting together a campaign weeks behind other candidates, the pressure to raise millions of dollars, or even the belief he couldn’t win. Christie says his sense of obligation to New Jersey overrode all other concerns even though he says he can win.
“That’s when I knew I could win, when all these people started shooting at me before I even got in the race.”
Christie strongly criticized President Obama for failing to lead: “He’s failed that absolutely litmus test for being President of the United States which is to know how to lead and decide.”
Christie indicated he wasn’t really interested in the Vice President’s job; his personality wasn’t suited to be number two he said.
He did not, however, rule out a future Presidential run, perhaps as early as 2016.
“I have an interest in being employed in the future,” he said. “And I’m not going to preclude any future employment.”
The top two Democrats in Trenton, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Senate President Stephen Sweeney both scolded the governor in written statements, saying he should get back to focus on the needs of everyday New Jerseyans.
Reported By Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3