Updated 11:14 p.m. Eastern Time
Ending a weeks-long flirtation that would have dramatically reshaped the race, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will announce Tuesday that he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination, CBS News has learned.
Christie has scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. ET at the New Jersey statehouse in Trenton.
Christie spent much of the past year insisting that he wouldn't run, offering colorful denials like "What do I have to do short of suicide to convince people I'm not running?" But he continued to keep one toe in the water, meeting with donors and making speeches on such topics as "Real American Exceptionalism" at the Ronald Reagan Library in California.
Pressure on Christie to enter the race was ratcheted up in recent weeks thanks to the efforts of billionaire venture capitalist and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, the leader of a group of Wall Street players who have been aggressively courting Christie. Disillusioned with President Obama and underwhelmed by the current crop of candidates, Langone and his allies (among them hedge fund magnate Paul Singer and industrialist David Koch) saw Christie as the the party's best hope to unseat the president next year.
Christie and his allies made clear over the past two weeks that despite his earlier denials, he was seriously considering a run - something that would have had major ramifications for the GOP race. Christie's brash style has made conservatives around the country swoon, and he has shown an ability to take on unions and fight for budget cuts while remaining relatively popular, unlike many other Republican governors.
Yet there were serious obstacles to a Christie run. The first was the fact that his position issues like climate change (he called it "real"), immigration, gun control and the notion of "creeping Sharia law" (Christie deemed such concerns "crazy" "crap") put him at odds with much of the Republican base. That would have posed particular problems for Christie in a pair of early states -- Iowa and South Carolina.
Timing may have proved to be more important. Christie would have gotten into the race less than three months before voters are expected to begin going to the polls. (The primary calendar remains in flux, but voting looks likely to kick off in early January.) He would have needed to develop a ground game in key early states, develop a platform and establish his fundraising network in an extremely short period of time, all while preparing for regular debates against his opponents and making himself better known to the American people.
And that would have been harder than you might think: Despite the deafening buzz around Christie in political circles in recent weeks, aout Tuesday morning found that 70 percent of voters - including 63 percent of Republican primary voters - didn't yet have an opinion about him. Asked if they would like to see Christie join the field, Republican primary voters offered a mixed response: 32 percent said yes, 38 percent said no and 30 percent said they didn't know.
Christie's decision not to run appears to be particularly good news for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, with whom he would have competed for the votes of moderate Republicans. Recent polls suggest Romney, who is viewed skeptically by many in the Republican base, remains the frontrunner for the nomination, though he has faced challenges from Rick Perry and, most recently, Herman Cain. Polls suggest that Michele Bachmann, who once appeared to be among the frontrunners, has faded to the back of the back.
Christie is the third high-profile Republican to forgo the race, following in the footsteps of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- who holds similar positions -- and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. His decision to exit the race leaves only Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani as the high-profile Republicans still considering a run.