Chris Christie
Lucas Jackson  /  REUTERS
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during an announcement that he will not be seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president in Trenton, New Jersey Oct. 4, 2011.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/4/2011 2:32:19 PM ET 2011-10-04T18:32:19

Chris Christie said Tuesday that he wouldn't seek the Republican presidential nomination, resisting the overtures of Republicans who had urged the New Jersey governor to reconsider his opposition to running.

Speaking at a press conference at New Jersey's state capitol, Christie explained that he felt an obligation to stick with his promise to continue to serve as governor.

"For months, I've been adamant about the fact that I would not run for president," he said. "For me, the answer was never anything but 'no.'"

Christie admitted rethinking his pledge not to run over the weekend, but characteristically joked that New Jersey voters are "stuck" with him for now.

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"In the end what I always felt was the right decision remains the right decision today: Now is not my time," he said, explaining several times that it "never felt right" to abandon the state at this juncture in his career.

The announcement had followed a two week period in which Christie considered reneging on his earlier, emphatic declarations against running for president.

The governor stoked the speculation with a high-profile speech last week at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., and a tour to help raising money for Republicans in Missouri, California and Louisiana.

Video: Gov. Christie: ‘Now is not my time’ (on this page)

Encouragement from Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush led him to reconsider a bid, and he spent the weekend thinking over his options.

That groundswell of support from major GOP donors, party leaders and everyday Americans had prompted Christie to rethink his intentions, sources close to the governor told NBC's Jamie Gangel. Christie came close to getting in, and he said that his wife, Mary Pat, had told him recently that she would support him running if he decided to do so.

Notably, when asked, Christie wouldn't rule out any future campaigns for the presidency or any other political office: "I have interest in being employed in the future and I’m not going to preclude any type of employment." Christie is eligible reelection as governor of New Jersey in 2013, and he said Tuesday he hadn't yet decided whether to seek a second term.

Tuesday's announcement means that the field of Republican presidential candidates is largely set; Christie joins a long list of Republicans who had thought about running for president, but ultimately decided against making a bid.

Christie declined Tuesday to make an endorsement of any candidate currently in the race, and sought to dispel the notion that interest in his candidacy was a sign of poor enthusiasm in the current field.

"I don't think it says anything in particular about the field," he said. "I'd like to think it says something about me."

Christie said he hadn't ruled any candidate in or out, but said that he was "troubled" by the reported posting of a racial epithet at a camping ground leased by 2012 candidate Rick Perry and his family.

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the last major figure to announce her intentions, and ballot qualification deadlines virtually ensure her decision sometime this month.

Christie's reconsideration has been driven by lingering uncertainty among Republican voters about the party's current stable of presidential candidates, especially front runners Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Perry, the conservative governor of Texas.

Romney has performed well in polls of GOP voters' preference in a nominee, but has struggled to build on his early advantage in the primary campaign. Many conservatives had looked to Perry as an alternative to Romney, but the Texas governor's stumbles in recent debates, combined with questions about his record on immigration and Social Security, have raised doubts about Perry's candidacy.

Slideshow: Chris Christie — a N.J. politician with national recognition (on this page)

Despite his insistence for the better part of 2011 that he wouldn't run — Christie joked in February that he didn't know what he could do to convince people he's not running, "short of suicide" — speculation about a potential late entry by the Garden State governor reached a fever pitch last week during his speech at the Reagan library. During that event, he didn't explicitly rule out running despite the audience literally imploring him to run.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday found those two still atop the pack of candidates, though Romney reclaimed an advantage over his Texas rival following a boomlet for Perry shortly following his August entry into the campaign. Romney was the top choice of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, at 25 percent, in the poll. Perry and former pizza executive Herman Cain tied for second place, at 16 percent.

Christie would have entered the race with some support, and the same poll found him competitive against President Barack Obama among registered voters. Christie criticized the president at his press conference, saying Obama had "failed" as a leader.

But as he started to reconsider his earlier vow against running, Republicans behind the scene previewed possible lines of attack against Christie. GOP voices complained that Christie wasn't conservative enough on issues like immigration or gun rights, and they even took note of the governor's hefty stature.

Story: Christie's conservative record under close scrutiny

He joked that those early criticisms of his record were a sign, to him, that he could actually win. Christie also said late night comedians' jokes about his weight were "fair game."

But with the list of would-be GOP saviors dwindling, and October deadlines on the horizon, the Republican establishment will likely look to coalesce around a candidate, likely Romney or Perry, or possibly another dark-horse candidate lurking in the existing field.

NBC's Jamie Gangel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: Gov. Christie: ‘Now is not my time’

Photos: NJ Gov. Chris Christie's rise to power

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  1. A baby photo of the governor; he was born in Newark, N.J., in 1962 and went on to graduate from Rutgers University. (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Christie (far right) with his parents and brother and sister at the Jersey Shore, a frequent family destination. (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A portrait of the Christie kids (the governor is at right). (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Christie, on the Livingston High School baseball team in Livingston, N.J., graduated in 1980 and was class president. (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, pose for their wedding photo in 1986. (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The couple at the University of Delaware, where they met. (Courtesy of Chris Christie) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, center, answers questions on the steps of U.S. District Courthouse in Newark, N.J., Aug. 13, 2003, after an arraignment for suspects allegedly involved in a plot to sell missiles to an undercover agent. Christie served as a U.S attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. (Mike Derer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft speaks as U.S. Attorneys Chris Christie, left, and Acting Director Bradley Buckles of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives listen during a media conference at the Department of Justice Dec. 11, 2003 in Washington, D.C. Ashcroft announced that criminal charges have been filed against several individuals, including a federally licensed firearms dealer in Ohio as well as against members of a violent street gang in New Jersey, for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to illegally traffic guns across state lines.

    * In 2007, Christie was criticized for recommending his former supervisor's company, Ashcroft Group, for a multi-million dollar no-bid contract to monitor a court settlement. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rep. Chris Smith, left, and U.S. Attorney Chris Christie announce an initiative to assist victims of human trafficking at the headquarters of the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Aug. 23, 2004. Smith, Christie and other federal officials sought help from local law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of human trafficking from overseas for work in sweatshops and prostitution. (Mike Derer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. New Jersey Sen. Wayne R. Bryant leaves federal court in Trenton, N.J., April 3, 2007, after a hearing on fraud, corruption and pension-padding charges. Christie became known for prosecuting corruption among government officials - some 130 pleaded guilty or were convicted, including Sen. Bryant, Robert Janiszewski, James Treffinger, John Lynch and Sharpe James. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. U.S. Attorney Chris Christie speaks with the media outside Camden Federal Courthouse May 8, 2007 in Camden, N.J. Christie announced the arrest of six men on charges of planning to attack the Fort Dix military base with automatic weapons. Christie called the Fort Dix case "the model for the post–September 11 era." (William Thomas Cain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Republican candidate for New Jersey Governor, former federal prosecutor Chris Christie, listens as former Massachusettes governor Mitt Romney endorses him, May 28, 2009, in Haddonfield, N.J. Christie won the GOP nomination against Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt and then defeated Gov. Jon S. Corzine, the incumbent Democrat in the election. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate, Chris Christie, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 25, 2009, before the House Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee hearing on deferred prosecution agreements. Accused of misusing the deferred prosecution agreements to settle criminal charges against corporations, Christie gave 2 1/2 hours of testimony during the hearing for new regulations. (Lauren Victoria Burke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, left, Republican challenger Chris Christie, right, and Independent candidate Chris Daggett stand in a television studio for their debate on Oct. 1, 2009, in Trenton, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie shows his tickets as he arrives at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert, on Oct. 9, 2009. A fan, Christie says he's attended 122 concerts by 'the boss,' but Springsteen isn't a fan of Christie, turning him down on his invitation to play at his inauguration. (Bill Kostroun / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. New Jersey gubernatorial candidates, from left, Republican Chris Christie, Independent Chris Daggett and Democrat incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine prior at the debate held at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., on Oct. 16, 2009. (Christopher Barth / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie is joined by his running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, center and his wife Mary Pat, right, at the podium prior to his victory speech at the election night headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., Nov. 3, 2009. Christie beat incumbent democrat Jon Corzine 48.5 percent to 44.9 percent. (Jeff Zelevansky / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, left, greets Governor-elect Chris Christie at the Robert Treat Academy charter school, Nov. 4, 2009, in Newark, N.J., the day after Christie won the govenor's office. Christie said with the visit to the highly successful school, he wanted to highlight his plans to improve education. The two have become the state's odd-couple, working together despite their differences. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Former Jersey City, N.J., Mayor Bret Schundler, right, listens, Jan. 13, 2010, in Trenton, N.J., as New Jersey Gov. elect Chris Christie introduces him as his pick for New Jersey's education commissioner. Christie ended up firing Schundler following a mistake that resulted in the loss of $400 million in federal funding for education. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. NJ Gov. Chris Christie delivers his inaugural address during a ceremony at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J., on Jan. 19, 2010. (Rich Schultz / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno watches as Gov. Chris Christie vetoes a measure to restore a higher income tax on those making more than $1 million, May 20, 2010, in Trenton, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gov. Chris Christie announces that he's standing by his decision to kill the nation's biggest public works project, a train tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City, Oct. 27, 2010, in Trenton, N.J. Christie, known for his fearless budget-slashing, has argued that his cash-strapped state can't afford to pay for any overruns on the $9 billion-plus rail tunnel under the Hudson River. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with Rep. Michele Bachmann during a rally at the Blaine Airport in Blaine, Minn., on Oct. 30, 2010. (Craig Lassig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie arrive at the White House for a state dinner, Jan. 19, 2011, in Washington, D.C., with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. Mary Pat is an investment banker and worked at Cantor Fitzgerald until the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. The couple has four children, Andrew, Sarah, Patrick and Bridget. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Gov. Chris Christie stands on the Statehouse steps Jan. 24, 2011, in Trenton, N.J., as he addresses an anti-abortion rally. Christie said "every life is precious and a gift from God," though he made no indication that he would undo current state laws. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Gov. Chris Christie, center left, greets Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno as he enters the New Jersey Assembly chambers to deliver his first State Of The State address Jan. 11, 2011, in Trenton, N.J. In his speech, Christie called for more cuts in spending and employee benefits and an overhaul of education. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Union members and supporters rally outside New Jersey’s Statehouse, calling for an end to Gov. Chris Christie’s benefit cuts in what they see is a war on public workers, in Trenton, Feb. 25, 2011. The governor has been vocal in his opinion of the teachers union calling it 'out-of-control' and the union leaders 'political thugs.' (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. New Jersey Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Bob Martin listens as Gov. Chris Christie, left, speaks on May 26, 2011. Christie announced that New Jersey will withdraw from a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of the year, saying the program is ineffective at combating global warming. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Gov. Chris Christie exits a state helicopter to attend his son's high school baseball game in Montvale, N.J., May 31, 2011. Christie and his wife then got in a black car with tinted windows and were driven the 100 yards to the field. New Jersey State police say it costs $2,500 an hour to fly a state helicopter, but that flying Christie to his son's high school baseball game didn’t cost taxpayers anything extra because they would have already been flying as part of their 'daily homeland security mission.' (Christopher Costa / Patch.com via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Gov. Chris Christie answers a question June 30, 2011, in Trenton, after he used a line-item veto to take about $900 million worth of spending out of the $30.6 billion budget submitted to him by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The line-item veto of the spending plan averts a potential shutdown of nonessential government services, Christie said. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Gov. Chris Christie talks to the media outside of the Somerset Medical Center emergency room, July 28, 2011, in Somerville, N.J. Christie was released following emergency treatment for asthma after having difficulty breathing. The 48- year-old governor struggles with chronic asthma and his weight, but it was the first time he'd be hospitalized for an attack in more than 20 years. (Julio Cortez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. President Barack Obama walks with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Newark, after viewing damage caused by Hurricane Irene in Paterson, N.J., Sept. 4, 2011. Christie's handling of the hurricane and it's aftermath received positive reactions. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Gov. Chris Christie places a rose, Sept. 10, 2011, during the dedication of the Empty Sky memorial at Liberty State Park, in Jersey City. Empty Sky is New Jersey's monument across from the site of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. After months of speculation and increasing requests from supporters to run for president, Chris Christie announces that he will not be seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president, in Trenton, Oct. 4, 2011. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, listens as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks to the crowd at Ariel Corporation on Oct. 10, 2012, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. (Jamie Sabau / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie upon arriving in Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 31, 2012, to visit areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Gov. Chris Christie stands at a podium during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new facility at Essex County Newark Tech on May 7, 2013, shortly after it was reported that he had undergone a weight-loss surgery in February. A band was placed around his stomach to restrict the amount of food he can eat. (Julio Cortez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Britain's Prince Harry, right, walks with Gov. Chris Christie at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J., during a tour of the area hit by Superstorm Sandy, May 14, 2013. New Jersey sustained about $37 billion worth of damage from the storm. (Julio Cortez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie walks with President Barack Obama on the rebuilt boardwalk at Point Pleasant, N.J., on May 28, 2013. Obama and Christie teamed up again to tour areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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