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Chris Christie denies he is preparing 2012 run

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has fervently - and repeatedly - emphasized that he is not going to run for president in 2012. Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped GOP leadership from trying to change his mind: in May, citing dissatisfaction with the current field of Republicans, a handful of influential Iowa donors apparently attempted to recruit him for the race. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

New Jersey governor Chris Christie again denied Wednesday that he is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Renewed speculation that Christie may run was stoked by reporter Jonathan Alter's Tweet that Christie "is conducting focus groups in preparation for a possible run for president in 2012."

Alter later backed off the claim, however, Tweeting: "Another source, close to Christie and v-reliable, says there are no Christie focus groups and nothing has changed. I trust him."

Christie categorically denied that he is running during his press conference Wednesday morning, his spokesman told CBS News.

The decision by Texas governor Rick Perry to enter the Republican race has dominated the headlines over the past few days, but it has not quieted calls for more contenders, with Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan the most discussed options. Republican strategist Karl Rove predicted on Fox News Monday that " Chris Christie and Paul Ryan are gonna look at it again" and claimed they were telling people who are calling on them to enter the race, "You know what, I owe it to you, I'll take a look at it." On Tuesday, Rove said he had talked with supporters of the two men who are convinced they will jump into the race.  (That same day, Ryan's office shot downa report that the Wisconsin Republican is seriously considering entering the race.)

Rove may be trying to pour cold water on the nascent presidential bid by Perry, with whom he and other allies of former President George W. Bush are believed to have an acrimonious relationship. Yet Perry's presidential rollout has raised eyebrows even among those who don't have a bone to pick with him: His combative early style, typified by his claim that if Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke decides to start "printing more money" it's "almost treasonous," has prompted questions about whether Perry can live up to his hype as a candidate who can unite the Republican establishment and the party's Tea Party and social conservative base.

On Sunday, New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat called on Christie to run, casting Perry as "the conservative id made flesh, with none of the postpartisan/uniter-not-a-divider spirit that successful national politicians usually cultivate."

Were he to enter the race, Christie would likely be a strong contender for the nomination. His direct, sometimes-confrontational style has made him a star in conservative circles, and won him the support of many Republicans who might otherwise be put off by his moderation on some issues. Christie would also enter with the likely support of much of the Republican establishment, including business leaders tied to the party and opinion leaders like Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

Christie could also make an electability argument: A Republican governor of a blue state, he "embodies the kind of voter who swings elections in America -- not a Mormon businessman or a cowboy-booted Texan, but a Catholic with middle-class roots born one state over from the Rust Belt," as Douthat wrote Sunday.

In July, Christie met with major GOP donors urging him to run for president- but said afterward he was staying out of the race.  He reportedly told them that his wife is unenthusiastic about a run and that he was worried it would mean too much time away from his kids.

On Tuesday, Christie said Americans are hungry for "someone in the White House who will lead, and take risks." 

"You can't lead from behind," he added. "Leading is not a political strategy, it's a moral strategy. I've said many times about the president, who I have admiration for and who I agree with on a number of issues, but man, get out there and tell us what you believe. And be willing to fight for it. Even if people disagree with it. They're going to give you points. They're going to give you points for being willing to speak their mind."