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."
Duh, Christy was never in.
Can anybody get down to brass tacks. Gov Christie decided not to run because he knew that he "could not win". Too much baggage and not enough time to explain it away.
If Palin has so much to offer the people of the US, then what is keeping her from becoming a candidate. The president of the United States is arguably the most powerful person in the world. The decision should be easy. What's the hangup, Palin?
Right the field is settled and none of them have a chance at beating Obama, especially not Palin if she does enter. Trump would have a better performance than Palin.
Christie is out,Perry is down,that leaves me voting for Mitt.He makes me nervous but not as nervous as Odummer.
Romney is a goofball! If he get's the nomination I'll leave the party! (The only reason I'm in is so I can vote in the Florida primaries to make sure Romney doesn't win)
This race is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash, and it isn't over yet.
I still think that Huntsman is the best all around candidate and has the best chance to beat Obama if nominated. Cable news just doesn't like him because he's not super partisan and is therefore not an exciting story.
LOL @ woman trying to run for anything and having opinions
With Republicans like Romney who needs Democrats.
Perry pride is alive and well!!! Give the radical and Romney red-herrings the boot! Perry can FIX this economy! President Perry in 2012!
►State of the race without Christie
Is "shaky" and "messy" and you'll see
So for now Jersey "...you're stuck with me,"
But not for long 'cause I'm vowing for VP!!
Still too late Christie – Even if you run for VP – You're LYING to your constituency!!!
Poor Republicans; looking for their saviour. Next week it will be someone else.
Here we have the media once again trying to pick who the runner should be. I don't like Perry nor Romney.we need someone that hasn't been a politician.That person might have some common sense.
The Republicans are a frothy mess.
Silly article, the race is the same as it was last week and the week before, Christie was not running then or now; while it may be his supporters and GOP strategists pushing him to run, this story doesn't have legs.
Don't for get Mr Cain, This guy is loaded with common sense. I think the more we know about him the more all will like him as a Great Leader of America.
Without a viable GOP candidate like Christie, the GOP and America are doomed. Obama will win easily in 2012. The remaining GOP candidates are either retreads or narrow-minded folks with a lot of baggage. It will be easy for Obama to discredit them. Most of them have already discredited or disgraced themselves. Mighty Casey and the Cassettes have struck out.
I think he would have won. He would have gotten alot of votes. After all, he looks like most Americans. LOL
Romney will lose to Obama the same way Kerry lost to Bush
I like Christie. I admired him greatly for pulling the plug on the tunnel boondoggle, and refusing to make New Jersey taxpayers pay for New Yorkers' convenience. He would make a good president.
Really? Is that what you are selling? Perry and Romney?
Well I for one am not buying it. Ron Paul is by far the superior candidate. No shady past. No Flip Flopping. He has the overwhelming support of our Active Duty Military. A 100% Constitutional Voting Record. The most donations by Individuals not big banks and special interest groups.
You can keep your bought and paid for Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Shame on you for trying to convince Voters that Ron Paul is not on the menu. It's time we as American Voters quit ordering the "Double Whopper" Lying Politicians and ordered the "Filet Mignon with the Au' Gratin Potatoes and Fresh Snow Peas" represented by Honest Principled Vietnam Veteran Constitution abiding RON PAUL. Enjoy your dinner!
We as a people are coming out in huge numbers to restore our Republic!
Perry's ratings are dropping faster than the Hindenburg and Romney won't be able to secure the nomination because the extremist right won't go for a non-Christian! Good luck, GOP... you just handed Obama four more years.
You talk about the popularity of all candidates yet said that Republicans are stuck with either Romney or Perry. I get really tired of only really hearing about those two instead of people like Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman. Romney is a flip-flopper and Perry was a democrat. These two things should be very harmful, and yet the media has completely shut out the other candidates so people think that only one or the other can win. Both are status quo and will be similar to recent administrations. Their foreign policy will be no different than Bush or Obama. I will not vote for either of the "front-runners."
Ron paul must not have told cnn he is running...