TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he never tires of being asked to run for president, but he insists he's still not doing it.
"How self-important would one have to be to become tired and annoyed by having people ask you to run for president?" Christie said Monday morning during an interview on a Philadelphia radio station.
"I'm a kid from Jersey who has people asking him to run for president. I'm thrilled by it," he said. "I just don't want to do it."
That hasn't stopped the Christie, who only took office in January 2010, from playing a kingmaker role in the race to the White House and having top-tier GOP contenders over for dinner at the governor's mansion in Princeton, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour also stopped by while he was weighing whether to seek the nomination, before deciding that he didn't have the "absolute fire in the belly" needed to run — something Christie has also said he is lacking at this point in his career.
"I think you have to feel in your heart you want to be president more than anything in the world," Christie said.Story: Republicans pursue wider field for 2012 race
Still, some Republicans are keeping hope alive that Christie will change his mind.
Saying they are unhappy with their choices among the developing field, a half-dozen of Iowa's top GOP campaign contributors plan to travel to New Jersey later this month to meet with Christie and try to persuade him to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Also scheduled to drop by is Jon Huntsman Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to China and former Utah governor. Christie said he has only met Huntsman once at a White House dinner and looks forward to learning more about him.The 2012 GOP field's name (ID) game
"If I decide to support a candidate for president, I want to make sure I really get to know that person," Christie said.
And although he swears up and down the Turnpike that he's not running, his comments increasingly sound more tuned for a national audience.
"I'm going to continue to play a role as a leader in our party, I think appropriately so, and I think it's good for New Jersey," Christie explained. "Clearly that's my goal, to make sure we have a change in 2012."Story: Bin Laden death not changing GOP hopefuls' plans
When asked whether gubernatorial experience was important for a presidential contender, Christie said he thought it was important to have that kind of combined executive and governmental experience, then took a dig at Obama, who served one term in the Senate, for lacking it: "I think it's taken him a while to really get the idea how you execute that type of authority."Story: The 2012 GOP presidential field
Without naming Donald Trump, Christie also said it would be difficult for someone who had no political experience to run because "you are foreign to that world."
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