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The Chris Christie Tease

The New Jersey governor suddenly has the political world guessing. Lois Romano on why he’s dropped the proclamations that he’s not ready to be president.

Let’s be clear: Chris Christie is not likely to run for president because he hasn’t lost the requisite weight needed to mount a campaign. Neither has the New Jersey governor started jogging publicly with his security detail to show how fit he is. So I say he does not go.

Obama Christie

President Barack Obama walks with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Newark, N.J., as they returned from Paterson, N.J., after viewing damage caused by Hurricane Irene, Sept. 4, 2011. (Charles Dharapak / AP Photo )

Which brings us to the current frenzy: After the man has unequivocally declared countless times that he isn’t ready to be president, why are Republicans salivating that he might jump into the mix? And why are the media stalking a man who has said he likes his life as it is, and even jokingly threatened to kill himself to put the speculation to rest?

We are chasing him all over the country, parsing every word not uttered, and scrutinizing how he enters a room. Very wealthy men are calling on him to run, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page has added its voice of encouragement. His brother and father, neither of whom seem to know any more than we do, have weighed in, along with every pundit in America.

“For both the media and the politicos, the candidate always looks greener on the other side of the fence,” says Dan Schnur, a former aide to John McCain and now head of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “There’s nothing new to say about Mitt Romney, and the media are running out to of things to say about Rick Perry. Christie is the new kid.”

So hysterical is the chatter that one almost expected him to make a surprise announcement during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library on Tuesday night. He did not—but it sure sounded as if his “absolutely not” had morphed into “maybe absolutely not.”

“Your country needs you,” one woman pleaded.

“I’m just a kid from Jersey who feels like I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state,” Christie responded. “That heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me.”

Bipartisan

Cory Booker Blasts Partisanship

At a Newsweek/Daily Beast breakfast, the mayor of Newark talked about the president’s jobs speech, the perils of ideological divide, and his relationship with Gov. Chris Christie. By Christopher Dickey.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, is a star in the Democratic Party, but these days he’s warning that “the parties” – and he’s talking about both the Democrats and the Republicans – “have hijacked our democracy.” The public is cynical, he said. The parties are more interested in partisanship than in solving the great problems facing the nation. And as a result, said Booker, good ideas in President Barack Obama’s jobs speech on Thursday night might amount to nothing more than “screaming into the wind.”

"I thought he was great," Booker said of Obama. "I thought he was right on on the important points. But the question is...will anything come of it? And it’s unfortunate that we have a political process right now that has created just cynicism, as I see, [that's] just pervasive in my generation, person after person just surrendering to the cynicism about our government."

Corey Booker

Taylor Hill / Getty Images

“There is just too much of a damned crisis right now for partisanship,” Booker told a small breakfast meeting at the offices of Newsweek and The Daily Beast. “This isn’t World War II, but just imagine for a second during World War II if you had the kind of hyper-partisanship where our leaders couldn’t get things done,” said Booker. In Newark, unemployment is over 14 percent and people are confronted every day with poverty, with ignorance, with pain. “My generation won’t be called to storm beaches in Normandy,” said Booker, who is 42. “The great crisis of my generation is making this American economy work again.”

At the local and state level, where government is closer to the people and either delivers services or doesn’t, politicians may still find ways to cross that partisan divide to get things done. The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is a Republican star. But Booker says he and Christie have found common ground on critical issues.

Cory Booker discusses how he gets along so well with Chris Christie.

Even before Christie was elected in 2009, he joined Booker one night on a citizen patrol driving through some of the most dangerous corners of Newark. As they rode through those mean streets in the dark, they talked about how people would try to pit them against each other. Instead, then and there they found areas where they could agree: education, economic growth, and public safety.

Cory Booker reacts to President Obama's jobs speech.

Campaign

Chris Christie’s 2012 Tease

His brash hurricane performance only stoked some Republicans’ belief that the N.J. governor is the man to beat Obama. But Christie tells John Avlon he doesn’t “feel it.”

As Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast on Saturday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a simple message: “Get the hell off the beach.”

“You’re done. It’s 4:30 p.m. You’ve maximized your tan,” he bellowed from behind a podium, flanked by state officials. Early the next morning, as the storm hit New Jersey, leaving half a million residents without power, Christie stood vigil at an emergency-operations center, giving updates to the Sunday shows. Days later he was still on the scene, touring flooded areas as rivers swelled, in full view of TV cameras.

Chris Christie's Irene Response

“We’re not out of the woods yet regarding this storm,” Gov. Chris Christie told a crowd in Manville, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP Photos)

Critics say Christie’s tactics were typically heavy-handed and self-aggrandizing. Supporters turned “get the hell off the beach” into a rallying cry, adding to his reputation as the un-Obama: unapologetic, unceremonial, and unmistakably in charge.

It seems that every move Christie makes these days is accompanied by the drumbeats of a draft movement. Billionaire businessmen, conservative commentators, and grassroots Tea Party enthusiasts—they’ve all been begging him to get in the 2012 presidential race, despite his repeated resistance.

“It’s incredibly flattering,” Christie says, “but I’ve been pretty clear about it. I know what I want do and what I don’t want to do.” Rarely has a fat man tried harder not to get a date.

Less than two years ago, Christie was barely a blip on the national political radar screen—just a U.S. attorney with 130 successful prosecutions, 125 Springsteen shows and 300-plus pounds under his belt. But the seeker is never as popular as the sought, and petitioners point out that the last rookie New Jersey governor pushed into a presidential run was Woodrow Wilson in 1912—precisely 100 years ago. This, they argue, is Chris Christie’s moment.

Chris Christie's Best Smackdowns

You've been Christied! The RNC keynote speaker clearly has a way with words. Watch our mashup of his most memorable burns just in time for his convention speech.

  1. Chris Christie Gets Angry Play

    Chris Christie Gets Angry

  2. Chris Christie’s ‘Idiot’ Tirade Play

    Chris Christie’s ‘Idiot’ Tirade

  3. How to Out-Booker Cory Booker Play

    How to Out-Booker Cory Booker

Mrs. Christie

The Woman in his Life

Christie’s Feisty First Lady

Christie’s Feisty First Lady

How Chris Christie’s wife could soften his image in 2012.

Full Coverage

More from The Daily Beast

The Chris Christie Tease

The Chris Christie Tease

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Chris Christie Embarrasses Himself

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The GOP Road Not Taken

Not Yet

Christie Follows 'Gut'

Chris Christie Breaks Jon Stewart’s Heart

No means no, even when it comes to politics. Jon Stewart noticed a common theme when revisiting Chris Christie’s remarks about running for president that somehow eluded reporters asking the questions.

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    John Avlon Talks Christie on 'CNN'

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