New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie. (Photo credit MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages)
By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
Is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie running for president in 2016? He didn't deny it.
Christie is up for re-election next month, and during a debate Tuesday evening with his opponent Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Republican didn't promise to serve out a second term or issue any boilerplate about having no plans to seek the presidency, a standard phrase that precludes nothing.
"I am not going to declare tonight for you or for anybody else that I am or I'm not running for president,'' he said when asked directly by moderator Kristine Johnson if he will run. "I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can do this job and also deal with my future.''
Christie did say "there's no greater honor and privilege I could ever, ever ask for in my life'' than to be governor. But ask him again in 2016: "I don't think anybody in America or in the state of New Jersey expects anybody three years away to tell them what they're going to do. Life's too long. I won't make those decisions till I have to.''
Buono, who trails by more than 25 percentage points in opinion surveys, said Christie's presidential ambitions are behind his opposition to same-sex marriage, his cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood and the cancellation of a proposed $9 billion rail tunnel to New York. Christie killed the tunnel in 2010, saying the state would be financially vulnerable to cost overruns.