Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has only held his post since 2010, some GOP strategists are hoping he will go after an even bigger executive office—the Oval Office—in 2012. Christie has denied that he will run for president many times already, but insiders insist that he might still have a change of heart. Christie captured the attention of Republicans around the country when he stood up to New Jersey school teachers and state employees in the name of pension reform. In state, his poll numbers have risen recently, with 54 percent of New Jersey voters approving of his performance as governor.
The late-in-the-game push for Christie comes as the Republican Party fails to rally behind a single presidential candidate. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, a moderate who has had to defend the Massachusetts healthcare program he enacted in the left-leaning state of Massachusetts, has yet to gain the approval of the conservative wing of the party, even after years of campaigning. Texas Gov. Rick Perry shot to the front of the pack after his August entry into the race. But his lackluster debate performances and his controversial immigration policies have many conservatives second-guessing their support. The other GOP candidates lag behind in polls and media attention. Thus, Republicans are clamoring for another candidate who can both excite the base and appeal to moderate voters—especially as President Obama's meager poll numbers make the White House seem ripe for the picking by the right Republican candidate.
Christie has some reasons to stay out of the race. He could learn from Perry's current challenges that the buzz that catapults a late entry candidate into front-runner position does not come without obstacles. Christie's limited experience as governor also pales to Perry's 10 years in Texas. But Christie's Tuesday speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California will put him on a national stage and keep GOP tongues wagging across the country.
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