As the world waits to see if New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has changed his mind about mounting a presidential campaign -- sources indicate a (new) decision could be announced as early as next week. A new Rasmussen Reports indicates that the governor would probably fare well against President Barack Obama if he decided to run.

According to the new national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters, Obama earned 44 percent support to Christie's 43 percent in an early hypothetical 2012 matchup.

Six percent prefer a third option, and eight percent are undecided.

These numbers place Christie firmly in the same league as the other top GOP hopefuls in the single digits. However, only 26 percent of likely voters believe the first-term governor is likely to make a run for the White House. Among Republicans, 32 percent say he should run, 25 percent disagree.

As Rick Perry has recently demonstrated, it's easier being on the outside with people begging you to run than it is to actually run a campaign, said Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. Running for president is a unique role in America, and there's no way of knowing how a candidate will perform unless they actually try it.

On Thursday, the New York Post reported that, with the urging of former President George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger and Nancy Reagan, Christie is giving serious thought to jumping into the GOP presidential race.

And the announcement may come as soon as Monday, according to close Christie sources.

The New Jersey governor has vowed many times that he won't be running for president in 2012. Last year he even went this far to say it: Short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running. I'm not running!

Have Kissinger, Bush et al. Convinced Christie to Run?

But the encouragement of Kissinger, Bush and Reagan, is said to have him thinking he might change his mind. Even Christie's wife, Mary Pat, has been warming to the idea of a presidential run.

It's more than just flattering, a source close to Christie said, adding that he has the ability not only to be president, but to win it.

Insiders say Christie is ready to put a presidential campaign together pretty fast, which would be a requirement as key primary ballots are only weeks away. It is also reported that his top advisers had sketched out a finance plan that could be used promptly.

Fueling even further speculation was Christie's three-state tour last week, where he attended seven fundraisers. But a source close to the governor said the fundraisers had been planned for months and are not indicative of a change in attitude toward a 2012 run.

I think the governor started something two years ago and we've got much further along in our agenda than we anticipated, said New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Monday, trying to dismiss the rumors that Christie's speech at the Reagan library is more than a speech. I could easily get used to this, but I don't think the governor is going to run for president.

Christie has seen uptick popularity lately. In a Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Tuesday, 54 percent of New Jersey voters approve of his performance, while 36 disapprove; that's up from a 44 percent split in May. The polling followed praise for the Christie's handling of Hurricane Irene in August and the signing of his pension and health benefit overhaul for public workers.

The New Jersey governor also added to the speculation himself when he told an audience at New Jersey's Rider University that neither Democratic or GOP leaders satisfy the public's desire for real leadership.

I think what the country is thirsting for, more than anything else right now, is someone of stature and credibility to tell them that and say, 'Here's where I want us to go to deal with this crisis, Christie said. The fact that nobody yet who's running for president, in my view, has done that effectively is why you continue to hear people ask [Gov. Mitch Daniels] if he'll reconsider and ask me if I'll reconsider.