New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie left the door open — ever so slightly — to the notion that he was reconsidering his decision not to run for president in an appearance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday night.
Although he referred the crowd to his previous denials that he would not jump into the race, he also told a member of the audience who implored him to get in race that he was “listening to every word.”
During a short question-and-answer session after his prepared remarks at the hill-top library in Simi Valley, Calif., the audience member offered a passionate plea for Christie to jump into the race. It was a remarkable moment. Here’s what she said:
“You know how to tell the American people what they need to hear. And I say this from the bottom of my heart, from my daughter who’s right here and my grandchildren who are at home. I know New Jersey needs you but I really implore you, I really do, — I’m not — this isn’t funny. I mean this with all my heart. We can’t wait another four years, to 2016. I really implore you as a citizen of this country to please, sir, to reconsider,” the woman said. “We need you. Your country needs you to run for president.”
“I hear exactly what you’re saying and I feel the passion with which you say it, and it touches me,” Christie replied. “I’m just a kid from Jersey who feels like he’s the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state.”
Later, he added, “I thank you for what you’re saying and I take it in and I’m listening to every word of it and feeling it.”
“It isn’t a burden,” Christie said of those who are putting pressure on him to enter the 2012 race. “Fact of the matter is, that anybody who had an ego large enough to say, ‘oh please, please, please stop asking me to be leader of the free world. It’s such a burden. If you could please just stop.’ I mean what kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say ‘stop, stop.’?”
Christie continued, “It’s extraordinarily flattering, but by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me.”
In response to an earlier question about whether he was re-thinking his decision, Christie offered a much more flippant non-denial denial.
“I saw something great today on the Politico website, and I don’t mean to be an advertiser for Politico, but they put a minute and 53 seconds of my answers strung back to back to back together on the question of running for the presidency. Everyone go to Politico.com. It’s right on the front page. I’m not going to bore you with you know. Click on it, those are the answers. Next question.”
(Here’s the video montage of Christie’s denials that was referring to: http://politi.co/r0I9dx )
Another member of the audience stood up and identified herself as a proud “Jersey girl” who has been living in California for two-and-half years.
“My Italian mother — she told me to tell you that you gotta run for president,” she said.
“If I make you proud to be a New Jerseyan and proud to be American and your Italian mother wants me to run for president, what the hell are you doing in California?” Christie joked. “Get back to New Jersey. Let’s go. Come home. Come home for God’s sake. What are you doing out here? I got a plane, you can come right back now if you want.”
Christie added, “Getting more taxpayers one at a time.”