State of the race without Christie
October 4th, 2011
06:21 PM ET
3 years ago

State of the race without Christie

Washington (CNN) – With characteristic brio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie informed the world Tuesday that he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination.

"New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me," Christie said at a press conference in Trenton.

And now the Republicans who pined for the blunt-talking governor to enter the presidential race are stuck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Though Perry has fallen behind Romney in the polls after a pair of shaky debate performances and questions about his conservative bona fides, high-level GOP donors and veteran party operatives who wanted Christie to run still regard Perry and Romney as the main contenders for the nomination.

In the hours after the New Jersey governor issued his final and definitive statement about the 2012 race, Romney's campaign worked feverishly to sign up the bundlers who were pressing Christie to get in.

"There is certainly an effort under way to reach out to them," said Austin Barbour, a member of Romney's finance team. "I think the majority of them will come on board because they see the polling in the key states and even the national polls."

Romney appeared to be making headway.

Two of the GOP moneymen who were urging Christie to run appear to be headed to Romney. A Romney campaign aide confirms to CNN that Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone has decided to become a financial supporter to the campaign. Meanwhile, billionaire supermarket magnate Jon Catsimatidis was also reportedly signing on with Team Romney before the close of business on Tuesday.

Campaigning in Florida, Romney had kind words for Christie.

"Competition is always a good thing and he would have been a very fine contender and competitor if he were in the race," Romney said.

With Christie choosing to remain on the sidelines, Romney ducked a fight with a potentially fierce opponent.

Both Romney and Christie would have done battle on the moderate, establishment-friendly side of the Republican primary, with Perry appealing more to the grassroots conservative wing of the party.

Yet even as Republicans in Washington and on Wall Street began taking sides Tuesday, polls continue to show that the voters around the country are far from decided.

Polls out Tuesday indicated that Christie would have siphoned support from both Romney and Perry if he ran.

Among Republican voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University, Christie and Romney tied at 17%, with businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain at 12% and Perry at 10%.

Without Christie in the race, his rivals all gained: Romney led the pack with 22%, Cain followed at 17% and Perry took 14%.

Christie's numbers were lower in a Washington Post/ABC News survey also released Tuesday, but Romney and Perry both polled better without him in the race.

And waiting on the sidelines is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has to decide whether to join the race on Oct. 28, the filing date for the New Hampshire primary and the first hard deadline for any Republican considering a White House bid.

A source close to the Palins said Tuesday that they continue to view the race as "wide open," a characterization few Republicans would dispute.

The topsy-turvy GOP race has been more fluid than any in modern memory, and there are still three months of campaigning to be had before the Iowa caucuses.

Romney, the nominal frontrunner, has been stranded around 25% in nearly every poll taken this year and has yet to prove that he can grow his base of support.

Perry joined the race as a juggernaut in August but fell in national surveys after his opponents raised questions about his record on illegal immigration and his executive order mandating that middle school girls be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease.

Cain, a virtual unknown before the race began, has vaulted into the top tier of the GOP field after a charismatic and plain-spoken debate performance in Orlando last month.

Candidates like Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have joined the 2012 race to great fanfare, only to stumble.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was once widely regarded as the establishment alternative to Romney, and he dropped out of the race in August.

In Iowa, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum may be climbing and Texas Rep. Ron Paul continues to poll in double digits.

Huntsman is slowly gaining traction in New Hampshire even before running a single television ad there, which could force Romney to look over his shoulder in a primary state he must win.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also been on an upward trajectory after a string of impressive debate showings.

According to Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos, Christie's decision not to run "means the field is probably settled, even though the voters aren't."

Romney must prove he can withstand attacks that are now certain to come his way, he said.

"Now Romney will be tested in a more forceful way than ever," said Castellanos, who advised Romney in 2008 but is not aligned with any campaign this time around. "He better strap on his helmet for the next debate."


Filed under: 2012 • Chris Christie • GOP
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. k.simon

    Since Christie is out I am going all in on Ron Paul (I will even write him in) so establishment thank you.

    October 4, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. CornucopiaOfKnowledge

    None of the above.

    October 4, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. Alfredo

    Vote Romney!

    October 4, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. retrostar1000

    Thank you for another distraction, Republicans. So Chief Wiggams won't be running. Now on to the next useless thing Republicans do..

    October 4, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. trex

    Which flavor of NUT will the extreme right wing of the gop be sentenced to fail in the general election.

    October 4, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. Ken

    Well it makes things a whole lot lighter

    October 4, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. Dani

    And waiting on the sidelines is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has to decide whether to join the race on Oct. 28, the filing date for the New Hampshire primary and the first hard deadline for any Republican considering a White House bid.
    --------------------------

    And that's all Palin will ever be – a sideline cheerleader. Forget about her CNN.

    October 4, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. Mark

    ahh, Christie's Out!!! When was he considered in?

    October 4, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. Jonathan

    why is'nt CAIN in your title "lead" ? Even your story says Cain has stepped ahead of Perry in several indicators. But you won't give Cain the headline. Face it. Cain would be a disaster for Obama.

    October 4, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. JonahBC1111

    hmmm... maybe it times to allow McCain a do over....

    October 4, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  11. Melo-D

    Didn't he say he wasn't running last week, then the week before that, and the week before that....How long does it take the media to get the point?

    October 4, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. veganbrewer

    So Christie has been saying for months that he isn't running but it's still news when he says that he's not running? Thanks CNN. Also, until when do you have to include "former Godfather's Pizza CEO" before Herman Cain's name?

    October 4, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. mac

    he was never in

    October 4, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  14. CTTexas

    Poor republicans...they are floundering.

    October 4, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. edyvan

    Run Sarah Run....

    October 4, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. oldcoaldog

    Well, at least he won't have to endure fat jokes coming from democrats.

    October 4, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  17. hwy911

    The GOP stands where it has always stood, because Christie was never in. The GOP stands knee-deep in its own... mud, and there it shall remain.

    October 4, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. JRH

    Pretty sad when the best they've got doesn't want the job. Where does the race stand? Obama 2012!

    October 4, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  19. GODZILLA1

    Sarah WILL enter the race. She is the only hope the T baggers have.

    October 4, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  20. amac

    Christie out of the race? There's a ton of weight off our shoulders.

    October 4, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. Tom Hunter

    Nobody wants the morbidly obese as President.

    October 4, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. barry

    as republicans we need to get out act together, I don't care much for Obama's plans to fix the economy, but ill give him one thing he has a plan. All i hear from our presidential contenders is a policy of hating Obama and rehashing the Bush era policies that got us into this mess to begin with, we need to disenfranchise the tea party, moderate the bible beating and dwelling on archaic social issues, and figure this out. We definately need to return to paygo, the budget needs to be be absolutely balanced, but perhaps there is some merit to a short term injection of gov spending to get the ball rolling, I'm pretty sure that the thousands of unemployed in this country could care less about booing a gay solider, or who that solider marries, to be quite honest at this point my vote goes to whomever I think is most competent, and i feel like the Republican party has been putting all of its energy into making sure current ideas and policies fail.

    October 4, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. Brian Vandenberg

    Chris Christie out?? He was never in!

    October 4, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. CC

    Please Sarah Palin, do the Republican Party a favor and don't run.

    October 4, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. Bobby

    The Only candidate who WILL bring troops home – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who predicted the current economic crisis – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who will end the inflation tax – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who speaks unwavering TRUTH – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate not owned by lobbyists and corporations – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who will reign in the banks and end their monopoly by ending the Fed – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who is PRO PEACE and ANTI WAR – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who follows the constitution – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who wants to end the useless drug war – RON PAUL
    The ONLY candidate who will end all foreign aid to Israel and the arab nations – RON PAUL

    The ONLY candidate ignored by the media because they don't want him to win – RON PAUL

    VOTE RON PAUL 2012 and bring peace and prosperity back to our nation with sound money and a humble non interventionist foreign policy. Trade and friendship with all, allies with none.

    October 4, 2011 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
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