Christie said he came to a decision last night that he was unable to abandon New Jersey to pursue a bid for the Republican presidential nomination after spending only 20 months on the job.
The job here in New Jersey is my passion, Christie said at a nearly hour-long press conference in Trenton, the state's capital. Now is not my time. I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon.
News reports of Christie's decision preempted his announcement, as the governor spent the morning informing his family and supporters.
He left the door open for a presidential bid later, saying coyly that he wants to be employed sometime in the future. Christie also declined any talk joining the GOP ticket as vice president, saying the position does not gel with his blunt demeanor.
New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me, Christie said.
Christie has been a major Republican star since he was elected New Jersey governor in 2009, toppling the incumbent Democrat, Jon Corzine.
Though Christie had adamantly and repeatedly declined to run for president-even going so far as to joke that he would have to commit suicide for people to believe him-he reconsidered his decision after pressure from supporters and voters around the country, he said.
The level of support for a Christie candidacy was too high for the governor to completely ignore, he said.
I had an obligation to seriously consider what people were asking me to do, he said, adding that he has no regrets for his decision. I will always be grateful for their confidence in me.
Christie maintained that he could have jumped into the race with a political team waiting on his word. He also had the support from his family, he said.
Despite declining a campaign, Christie still had words for President Barack Obama, saying the country would be better if he was a one-termer. He also said that he would endorse the candidate who he believes has the best shot at defeating Obama in 2012.
This is just an example of somebody who has failed the leadership test, Christie said. There's no substitute for knowing how to lead. You can't be taught how to lead and make decisions.
The swarm of interest in a Christie presidential bid had highlighted just how unsatisfied Republicans are with their current options. Yet Christie disagreed with that view. He believed that interest in his candidacy was based on his record as governor, not the weakness of the GOP contenders.
They weren't searching, Christie said of Republicans. They came to one target: me.