Wednesday, February 23, 2011

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie: "There is no chance" I'll run for president in 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in the New Jersey Assembly Chamber at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, delivering his second budget address. (Credit: AP Photo/Mel Evans)

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie: "There is no chance" I'll run for president in 2012

New Jersey governor Chris Christie again brushed off talk of a possible 2012 presidential bid on Wednesday, denying reports that he was associated with a political action committee (PAC) and asserting that there was a "zero percent" chance he would jump into the fray.

"There is no chance," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today Show" on Wednesday. "Zero chance. Under any circumstances. Close the door, nail it shut."

Regarding reports that an adviser was considering forming a PAC on his behalf, Christie said "that was an old partner of mine."

"I don't have a federal PAC," he said. "I haven't done it. I don't have any plans to do it. And the fact is, I'm not running."

The popular New Jersey Republican, who tied for in third place in an unofficial presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this month, refrained from voicing his support for any potential GOP contenders, arguing that "I don't even know who the field's gonna be entirely."

"I don't think there's any front runner right now," he said. "I think the field's really wide open."

Christie, who has over the last year earned prominence in the Republican party for his brash, budget-slashing efforts at repairing the New Jersey economy, also denied the argument that the GOP emphasis on balancing state budgets was a cover for disempowering the middle class.

Christie: I'm a "Fighter," but Not Ready to be President... Yet

"If you look at it, these fights are going on all over the country -- not just with Republicans, but with Democrats," Christie told NBC's Ann Curry, when asked about a Wednesday editorial in the New York Times positing that "Republican talk of balancing budgets is cover for the real purpose of gutting the political force of middle-class state workers, who are steady supporters of Democrats and pose a threat to a growing conservative agenda."

"Look at California, [governor] Jerry Brown's talking about cutting their take home pay 8 to 10 percent and laying off a bunch of state workers," he said. "This is about re-shifting our priorities."

In unveiling his New Jersey budget proposal on Tuesday, Christie pushed for major cuts in Medicaid and reductions in the pensions and benefits of public workers while promoting nearly $200 million in tax cuts for business and wealthy individuals.

He argued, however, that the debate should not be confined to the matter of collective bargaining rights -the issue which has been the primary focus in the recent clashes over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal.

"It's not just an issue of collective bargaining," Christie said. "It's an issue of wanting to say yes all the time as a public official. You know, you never want to say no to anybody because, oh, you're much more popular if you say yes. Well you know what? It's time we have to start saying no to certain things to be able to say yes to the things that will grow our economy and create a more prosperous future."