"I have people calling me and saying to me, 'Let me explain to you how you could win.' And I’m like, 'You’re barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win.' That's not the issue."
It's the furthest out there Christie has gone about his thinking about the 2012 race, which many conservative pundits have been pleading with him to join, citing the weakness of the field. In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, he acknowledged he sees the opportunity, but didn't say that he also clearly sees a road to the White House over a field of more than a dozen potential GOP rivals.
He added, "The issue is not me sitting here and saying, 'Geez, it might be too hard. I don’t think I can win.' I see the opportunity both at the primary level and at the general election level. I see the opportunity. But I’ve got to believe I’m ready to be president, and I don’t. And I think that that’s the basis you have to make that decision."
“I think when you have people who make the decision just based upon seeing the opportunity you have a much greater likelihood that you’re going to have a president who is not ready. And then we all suffer from that. Even if you’re a conservative, if your conservative president is not ready, you’re not going to be good anyway because you’re going to get rolled all over the place in that town.”
Christie also said that he sees "how much better I get at this job every day," adding he doesn't think he'd be a good candidate if he doesn't feel it from the heart.
"Like I said before, I am who I am and people have to trust, they don’t have to but they should trust, my instincts on this," he said. "I know me better than anyone else knows me. If I felt like I was ready, I’d go, but I’m not. But I’m also not going to go if I don’t think I’m ready.
As for being governor, "there has never been a day where I’ve felt like I’m over my head, I don’t know what to do, I’m lost," he said. "I don’t know whether I’d feel the same way if I walked into the Oval Office a year and a half from now. So, unless you get yourself to the point where you really believe you have a shot to be successful, then I don’t think you have any business running for it."
The National Review's Rich Lowry posted the full text of Christie's 2012 comments online on Tuesday night.