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All eyes on Chris Christie as clock ticks

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just days away from announcing his decision regarding a potential 2012 presidential bid, many wonder how he would fare as an actual candidate - particularly given an increasingly tight timeline, and the considerable challenges to such a late entrance into the race.

Christie, who is expected to announce his decision within days, has repeatedly said he will not run for president, going so far as to joke that only his suicide would put an end to demands he take the plunge.

But amid sustained pressure from the right, the first-term governor is now seriously reconsidering - and Republican insiders familiar with Christie's thinking about a presidential recently put the odds of him running at 50-50.

The first-term governor would face major hurdles entering the race so late in the game. In light of recent decisions by Florida and South Carolina to move their Republican presidential primaries up to January, the Republican candidates are looking at an accelerated primary calendar - the first of which will now likely take place in the beginning of January.

That means that if Christie does run, he will have just three months to fully organize his campaign, raise money, and actually hit the campaign trail in early states.

"I was hearing over the weekend, he was starting to see the real hurdles to him getting into this race," said CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford in an appearance on the "Early Show" Monday. "It all comes down to timing... If you think about what Chris Christie would have to do, if he announces his candidacy... he has three months to put a campaign together and raise tens of millions of dollars and still campaign - do the debates and all of the other things that these candidates have to do."

"That is a huge, huge bar to him. I think he got a little reality check over the weekend," Crawford added. "That's why you saw some of the GOP establishment yesterday saying, this is not going to be so easy for him if he does get in."

While some have argued that Bill Clinton launched a successful - and equally late-in-the-game - presidential bid in 1992, others have noted that Clinton had by that point already formed an exploratory committee, and that, given the year's comparatively late primary schedule, he had an additional two months to organize his efforts.

Christie has reportedly asked leading Republicans to hold off on making endorsements until he has made his decision - and a number of GOP lawmakers have insisted that Christie would be a viable candidate in 2012 despite the concerns over timing.

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Christie would have a strong following "out of the chute" if he did get into the race.

"He'll be a very strong candidate out of the chute," Barbour told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "I don't think it is too late for a candidate with his stature to decide to run. But I don't know what he's going to do. That's going to be up to him and his family."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the same show that Christie would be "very viable" as a candidate - but he warned that "the swimming pool looks a lot better until you jump right in."

Some have noted, too, that an unsuccessful Christie bid would likely jeopardize his re-election bid in New Jersey in 2013.

"Few if any governors in America enjoy their jobs like Christie does, and it took nearly a decade of careful planning and positioning for him to get it. As a Republican in a deeply blue state, he could lose it very, very easily," writes Steve Kornacki on Capital New York. "Run and he'll be pilloried by his home-state foes for skipping out on his job halfway through his first term, and for going back on a year's worth of adamant, over-the-top denials. Plus, as a national G.O.P. candidate, he'll presumably be pulled far to the right, further alienating him from the swing voters he depends on in his home state."

Whatever his decision, Christie will have to make it soon.

As Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell pointed out recently, "whoever's going to get in needs to do it immediately. We've got 90 days till the caucuses start in Iowa."

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