Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., insists he intends to serve four more years in the Garden State if re-elected this year, but the famously outspoken Republican isn't closing the door to a presidential bid in 2016.
Christie, a first-term lawmaker and rising star in the GOP, told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that "I'm asking for four years [as governor] and I intend to serve four years."
But, like many would-be presidential contenders before him, he left the door open for other possibilities.
"Life is life; you never know what it's going to confront you with," he told the Star-Ledger. Asked if he'd be more ready in the future to confront Republican urgings for a presidential bid, he was characteristically blunt.
"Yeah, you're damn right I'd be more ready," Christie said.
In the 2012 election, a contingent of establishment Republicans lobbied Christie to get into the race to challenge President Obama for the presidency. Christie declined, and ultimately became a prominent surrogate for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, for whom he lobbied as keynote speaker of the Republican National Convention.
In the months since superstorm Sandy ravaged the New Jersey coastline, Christie -- who was out front in support of victims and lobbying Congress for relief aid -- has seen a boost in his popularity. He is thought to be a shoo-in for re-election as governor, particularly since Newark's Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, has announced his decision not to challenge him.
Christie gives himself good marks on his handling of the storm, which he cited it as an emotional experience.
"I mean, sadness and loss touches me more and more deeply than it did before ... I'm supposing that's a result of just all the sadness and loss that I saw up so close, holding these people and having them cry on my shoulder," he told the Star-Ledger. "If you went through what I went through, especially the last three months of the year, you get an 'A.'"
He concedes, however, there's still room for growth.
"In the end, what I've learned is that there's still a lot for me to learn," he said. "And I can get better".