(Jason Redmond / Reuters )
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday definitively ruled out a presidential bid, saying the time was not right for him to run for national office.
"I have a commitment to New Jersey that I will not abandon," the Republican governor said.
For months, Christie had insisted that he would not run for president, saying among other things that he did not think he was ready to step into the office. But he found himself under new pressure in recent weeks as Republicans surveyed the field of announced candidates and still found it lacking.
Christie noted himself Tuesday that he had been "adamant" all year that he would not run, but felt compelled to reevaluate that decision given the earnest pleas for him to do so. Even his family said they would support him in the campaign, should he decide to run.
"In the end, my commitment to the state overrode everything else," he said. "It just never felt right to me to leave now."
He hasn't reached the half-way point of his term yet, but Christie had already earned a reputation nationally as a brash fiscal conservative who had taken on state employee and teachers unions. He was one of the most sought-after surrogates in the 2010 campaign for Republicans.
The announcement comes on the heels of a report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that said Christie had told new Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Meg Whitman that he would not run for president in return for her agreeing to host a fundraiser for him in California.
And if a Christie run seemed unlikely in the first place, the move by Florida to shift its GOP primary forward to the end of January made it appear downright foolhardy. With states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all expected to advance their contests into January, Christie and a hastily assembled campaign team would have been scrambling from the get-go.
Any remaining would-be candidates realistically have just over four weeks to make a decision, if he or she expects to compete in the early states. On Friday, the New Hampshire secretary of state set the filing deadline to qualify for the primary election ballot on Oct. 28.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey of Republican voters nationwide showed a race still up for grabs. Mitt Romney led the field of candidates with 25%, followed by a surging Herman Cain and a fading Rick Perry at 16%.
The same poll found that in a hypothetical general election matchup, Christie was essentially tied with President Obama.
James Oliphant contributed to this report.