Perhaps Rick Perry isn’t the only late entrant into the Republican field. According to one report, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is considering a last-second bid as well.
According to reporter Jonathan Alter on Twitter, “sources say NJ Gov. Chris Christie is conducting focus groups in preparation for a possible run for president in 2012.”
Christie has long denied any interest in a 2012 run. Of course, so did Perry, but the New Jersey governor’s denials have been Shermanesque to the point of absurdity.
“Listen, I threatened to commit suicide. I did, I said, ‘What can I do short of suicide to convince people I’m not running?’” Christie said in February. “Apparently, I actually have to commit suicide to convince people I’m not running.”
But Christie has developed a strong following among grassroots and establishment Republicans alike with his combative style and many conservative commentators have openly pined for him to run. While it’s late in the campaign, a lot of top Republican donors have yet to take sides, meaning there’s still room to find donors. Or for donors to find Christie: a group of major GOP fundraisers led by Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone met with the governor last month to beg him to change his mind, according to Politico’s Mike Allen, only to be rebuffed when the governor gave a firm “no” based on family and state commitments.
Update: CNN quoted an anonymous source close to Christie saying that the governor’s thinking doesn’t seem to have changed. Still no official denial.
Update II: A spokeswoman for Christie, Maria Comella, denied the focus groups report to First Read. “It’s absolutely not true,” she said.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.