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Posted at 8:04 AM ET, 01/17/2011

Chris Christie denies any presidential interest (again)

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) again denied on Sunday that he will run for president in 2012.

But this time it was different.

During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace, the host went one step further with the "will you or won't you" question, pushing Christie on why he wouldn't run at a time that seems almost ideal.

Wallace pointed to a poll that shows Christie as the only Republican currently leading President Obama in a head-to-head contest.

But Christie, as he often is, was unimpressed by himself.

"You've got to believe in your heart that you're personally ready to be president, and I'm not there," he said. "I am not arrogant enough to believe that after one year as governor of New Jersey and seven years as United States attorney that I am ready to be President of the United States, so I'm not going to run."

Obama, of course, announced his candidacy after just two years in the Senate and stint in the state Senate that lasted -- wait for it -- seven years.

Christie's denials, of course, will not satisfy people. The circumstances seem almost too perfect for a tough-talking fiscal hawk like him to win the Republican nomination for president.

(We've argued that Christie would perfectly fill the wishes of economically-focused tea partiers, the unoccupied -- and potentially strongest --- slot in the 2012 field.)

When Christie says he's not ready to run for president, there's plenty of reasons to believe he is making an honest -- and correct -- assessment.

He's something of a national phenomenon, to be sure, but at home, he's slightly less larger-than-life -- a decently popular governor (recent polling has shown his approval right around 50 percent) who narrowly beat an unpopular incumbent governor in 2009.

Christie only run one campaign, which is far less than Obama, and the Republican seems to be wagering that the right situation isn't in 2012 but instead down the road. He's only 48 years old, so he's got plenty of time to wait.

But if Obama taught us anything, it's that you've got to strike while the iron is hot. Good politicians make their own timing.

Draft Pence movement launches: Speaking of 2012 presidential politics, a new effort is launching today aimed at drafting Indiana Rep. Mike Pence into the GOP primary fight.

The group, America's President Committee, is being run Ralph Benko, a former deputy counsel in the Reagan Administration. Former Kansas Rep. Jim Ryun is also affiliated with the group.

"Mike Pence describes himself as 'First a Christian, then a conservative, then a Republican'," said Benko. "He unifies fiscal, social, and national security conservatives."

Pence has not yet made any announcement about his political future although he is widely seen to be mulling either a run for president or for Indiana's open governor's seat. Politicos have been searching his schedule for signs of which way he is leaning but it provides disparate evidence: Pence is doing a series of local Republican events in Indiana but also traveled to South Carolina, an early primary state, to headline an exclusive GOP dinner.

Pence is expected to end the suspense on his future sometime later this month.

Health care bill not as unpopular: A new GfK poll for the Associated Press shows energy around opposition to the health care law passed last year is ebbing.

The poll showed just 30 percent of the public remains strongly opposed to the law -- the lowest percentage since September 2009.

The drop is not huge and is necessarily significant, but it comes at a bad time for Republicans. That's because the GOP is pushing forward with a vote in the House to repeal the bill this coming week. And while the move is largely symbolic, it is the first major piece of legislation that the new GOP House majority is moving forward with.

Overall opposition is down to 41 percent, after being at 47 percent following the November election. Support is at 40 percent, so the public is now almost evenly split on the bill.

Fixbits

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday that he likely needs to win Iowa or do very well if he runs for president.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announced he will not run for reelection this year -- a sign that he may be leaning towards seeking the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R-Texas) seat.

New Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is cutting back on staff for the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Former state legislator Dave Bitner is the new Florida Republican Party Chairman.

Former Rep. Robin Hayes is the new chairman of the North Carolina GOP. Hayes lost reelection in 2008.

Must-reads

"After Tucson, a thaw between McCain and Obama?" -- Dan Balz, Washington Post

"Bob Casey reflects on enhanced roles as state's senior senator" -- James O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The New Republic tells the fascinating tale of the rise and fall of state Sen. Jeff Smith -- Jason Zengerle

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza  | January 17, 2011; 8:04 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Afternoon Fix: Seven Republican senators visit Afghanistan and Pakistan; Sarah Palin on "Hannity" tonight

 
 
 
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