New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was characteristically blunt and to the point from the moment he opened his mouth to announce that he would not run for president. “For months, I have been adamant about the fact that I would not run for president,” Christie said. “My language was clear and direct. No many how many times I was asked the question for me the answer was never anything but no.”
Christie could not have been more clear. Even the ultimate denial he uttered last November -- “Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running. I’m not running!” — was not enough to quell the speculation or dampen the growing ardor in the restless Republican ranks.
I don’t blame Christie for at least giving the idea some consideration. As he said, it’s a humbling thing to receive all those letters, phone calls, tweets and other communications, from people you don’t even know, pleading with you to serve your country. But when you’ve said over and over again that you’re not ready to be president, dialing that back would be kinda difficult once in the race.
Christie, a first-term governor of a sometimes blue state, made the right decision. He followed his gut (stop it, people) and will be the wiser for it.
When I met with Donald Trump last week, I asked him about the possibility of Christie running. “The problem in politics is you’re popular until you decide to do it,” he said. “Everybody loves you until you decide to do it.”
That Christie ignored the voices filling his head with all sorts of flattery to cajole him into the race says a lot to me about his character and his inner core. He knows who he is and what he is capable of. And after a 50-minute or so press conference to say, “I’m not running,” we also know that he doesn’t lack for confidence.
The lights of a presidential campaign burn brighter than anyone can possibly imagine. What looks easy and doable to the audience is anything but. There are many things presidential candidates must do and put up with that mere mortals would never abide. The level of scrutiny is akin to standing in one of those all-revealing body-imaging machines at the airport. Anything you say or do, will say or do, have said or done is subject to dissection, ridicule, parsing and carping. And when you think you’ve got a handle on it, something emerges to remind you that you don’t.
Just ask Rick Perry.