He may have been on stage to persuade voters across his state that he deserved a second four-year term as Governor of New Jersey, but when asked if he might not find himself taking a tilt at the US presidency before that term is over Republican Chris Christie hardly denied the notion.
“I’m not going to declare,” Mr Christie said, adding: “the people of New Jersey don’t expect me to.”
But then he went on to suggest that were he to declare a run for the White House in 2016 it would not affect his ability to stay at the helm of New Jersey.
“I can walk and chew bubble-gum at the same time,” he said.
His remarks, made during a debate with his Democrat challenger for the governorship, state senator Barbara Buono, were the clearest signal yet that Mr Christie does indeed expect to seek the Republican nomination in 2016.
He came close to entering the ring in 2012, but eventually decided against it. “The fact is there have been people talking about me running for president since 2010 and they all said I would do it in 2012 and I said I wouldn’t, and I didn’t,” Mr Christie, 51, said at the debate at William Paterson University in Wayne. “And the fact is after 2017 I’m going to be looking for another job anyway.”
Ms Buono, who trails Mr Christie by more than 20 points, argued that his stewardship of the state was being affected by his presidential ambitions, pointing to his opposition to gay marriage. Mr Christie has said he would sign a gay marriage law only if it was approved by a statewide referendum.
As Governor of a state where more voters are registered Democrats than Republicans, Mr Christie is forced to tread a fine line. He raised eyebrows by offering lavish praise to President Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy and the damage it did to New Jersey last year. The so-called “bromance” with Mr Obama is certain to leave him open to attack by the Tea Party.Reuse content