I lost patience with the Christie speculation weeks ago but I’m going to make an exception for this for three very good reasons. One: It’s late Friday afternoon and I need some easy traffic bait. Mission accomplished. Two: Perry reeked last night. A month ago, it seemed entirely possible that he’d stomp Romney in the debates and have the nomination locked up by early fall. As it is, Romney’s at 44.9 on InTrade right now while Perry’s wheezing along at 27. Plenty of room for an even alpha-er alpha male (or female) to jump in and start stomping. Three: Newsmax is a player in right-wing media and might have an inside track here. And they’re not the only ones. Perennial Christie booster Bill Kristol told a CPAC audience this afternoon in Florida, “I know Chris Christie is thinking about it,” and earlier today at the Heritage Foundation Mitch Daniels called Christie “the best example that I can think of” when asked who fits the bill for bold conservative leadership that the country needs. My sense is that these guys are pushing because they have reason to believe that Christie’s still ever so slightly open to running. Verrrrry slightly. But slightly.

Anyway. As disappointment with Perry mounts, so does the pining for ChristieRyanDanielsRubio:

Newsmax has learned that the effort to draft Christie culminated in a hush-hush powwow held in the past week with Christie and several notable Republican billionaires.

A source familiar with the meeting suggested that Christie seemed inclined to enter the race but said he needed more time.

Christie promised to make a final decision “within two weeks,” the source said…

Senior aides to Christie have been quietly urging his supporters not to commit to Perry, indicating Christie was still mulling a bid and would make a final decision after New Jersey’s legislative races are completed in November.

That last bit suggests either that the story’s wrong or that Christie’s a doofus since the deadline to get on the ballot in Florida is October 31. Anyway: Explain to me again why he’d supposedly be such a gangbusters candidate in the primary. He is, to be sure, a supremely gifted messenger on entitlements and public-employee unions, and he’s already accomplished something significant vis-a-vis the latter. Beyond that, what’s the argument for his candidacy? He’s been governor for just two and a half years, he believes in global warming, he’s questionable on guns, he seems to support comprehensive immigration reform, he backed Castle over O’Donnell (RINO!), etc. That’s not to say he can’t win — if we were willing to nominate McCain, we could nominate Christie — but I’m not sure why anyone thinks he’d necessarily settle far north of, say, 25 percent. He’d be dynamite at the debates, but the debates don’t matter much except to hardcore political junkies like you and me. Why risk running now and flaming out instead of staying put as governor, building a record, and then steamrolling into the 2016 primaries when he wouldn’t have to face a Democratic incumbent in the general?

Update: And here’s the obligatory official denial.