It's a hype-bubble that's impossible to pop. Last night, Chris Christie repeated his intentions to remain as governor of New Jersey and stay out of the 2012 presidential race. But you wouldn't get that by reading the Beltway's leading newspapers, The Washington Post or The Hill or Politico. "Christie sidesteps 2012 questions" reads The Post's headline. "Christie leaves 2012 run question open" reads Politico. "Christie tiptoes around the presidential question," reads The Hill. A much more accurate headline and accompanying story comes from the Associated Press, which reads "Gov. Christie again denies 2012 bid." And that's because Christie did deny a 2012 bid—twice. Here were his two responses related to his 2012 ambitions during the Q&A portion of his address at the Reagan Presidential Library last night:
- Denial 1 After the first question is asked, the second questioner asks Christie directly if he's running. Christie then advises the audience to view a video montage (shown above) published by Politico yesterday containing a string of Christie denials across several media interviews including one saying "short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running." In his words, Christie responded: “They put a minute and 53 seconds of my answers strung back-to-back to back together on the question of my running for the presidency. I’m not going to bore you with it now. Click on it, those are the answers.”
- Denial 2 Later, a woman literally begs Christie to run for president. “I really mean this with all my heart. We can’t wait another four years, I really implore you as a citizen of this country, to please, sir, reconsider... Please, sir, your country needs you.” Christie responds: “I hear exactly what you are saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it and it touches me,” he said. “But at the same time, that heartfelt message that you gave me is not a reason to do it. That reason has to reside inside me.”
Despite those denials, the Washington press refused to take the responses at face value, using clever turns of phrases like this: "While Christie’s response seemed on its face to reinforce the notion that he would not run, his decision not to deny it directly immediately ramped up the guessing game about whether the nationally popular, blunt-talking governor would make a late-entrance bid to be the Republican nominee." Or this: "Chris Christie... seemed to indicate he is considering running for president," wrote Maggie Haberman. "He said that while Ronald Reagan clearly felt a call to duty, that he knows he has to ‘feel it in me'… It was not a ‘no.’ And the closest he came to a ‘no’ was referring to his past answers."
But those past answers were denials! Not just subtle denials but emphatic denials.
If Christie tells an audience the answer to their questions is the Politico video reel, and then decides he's running, then he blatantly lied. Christie's statements came the same day that his own brother Todd told a reporter "I'm sure that he's not going to run. If he's lying to me, I'll be as stunned as I've ever been in my life." And a source close to Christie told Fox News, "he has finally made a definitive decision, once and for all, not to run for president in 2012." Given that, it's a stretch to justify any retelling of last night's events other than the AP's succinct opening two paragraphs:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn't changed his mind: He reaffirmed in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday that he's not running for president.
Christie urged a capacity audience of about 900 to look at the website Politico, which had pieced together a long string of video clips in which he says he's not a candidate for the White House.