“One Iowa businessman, who sought unsuccessfully to draft Christie into the race earlier this year, said he was preparing this week to endorse another candidate, but Christie’s political advisers asked him not to.

“‘Something’s up now,’ said the Iowan, who requested anonymity to discuss private matters. ‘I was ready to jump, but was told to hold off until next Wednesday.'”

“Mr. Christie’s advisers said on Saturday that no formal planning for a campaign would begin unless the governor made a decision to run. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they said current efforts are nothing more than ‘due diligence’ should Mr. Christie decide to make a bid. One senior adviser said no campaign is under way but expressed confidence that one could be started in 24 hours if needed…

“If the odds of a campaign were very low just weeks ago, they are increasing.

“A hastily put together campaign would upend what two of Mr. Christie’s advisers said was his original plan: to consider running for president in 2016. But with President Obama looking more vulnerable, and with dissatisfaction among some voters and influential party leaders with the current Republican field, Mr. Christie is said by those close to him to feel that his best opportunity to run might be now…

“‘Sometimes the man can’t choose the moment,’ one of the political operatives said. ‘That discussion has been part of the last 10 days.'”

“The differences between Christie and [Hillary] Clinton, of course, are too numerous to count. Yet the fundamental choice the former faces now is identical to the one the latter confronted [in 2004]: to play it safe, take a pass, and play a longer game, or to hop aboard a groundswell that arrived too soon but may never come his way again. According to several people who have talked to him on the topic recently, Christie understands this fully and is more favorably disposed to diving in than he has ever been before. But whichever way it goes, Christie’s decision, as was the case with Clinton’s, is likely to prove fateful—both for him and his party…

“Christie is acutely aware of all [the] reasons to stay put and stand pat. But he has also—finally, after having the point hammered home to him by various national figures, including more than one Democrat—come to realize that of all the variables in presidential politics, timing is the least prone to control but also the most crucial. As a Republican, and a controversial one, in a basically Democratic state, he will face a tough reelection fight in 2013. By the time the next presidential race rolls around, in other words, he may no longer be in office; and even if he is, there may either be a Republican incumbent in the White House or a Republican array of challengers considerably more formidable than the current one (featuring the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, John Kasich, Nikki Haley, and/or Bobby Jindal).

“All of which is to say that 2012 may be Christie’s best and clearest shot at the Oval Office—that this may be his time. And while Christie might wish it were not so, ignoring that fact could come back to haunt him. ‘There are no cryogenic chambers in politics,’ says Schmidt. ‘The moment is perishable; it’s either seized or it fades away.’ And if you doubt that Schmidt is right, just ask Hillary Clinton.”

“Christie understands that the most important deficit in the Obama White House is a deficit of leadership. He recognizes its absence as a prime cause of our national despair and its necessity if we are to restore confidence and progress…

“Leadership wears many hats: being the broker when that is needed, a visionary, and always the source of courage to act with faith in America and its people.

“The widespread disappointment with Obama is that he has failed to meet those tests. Now, in his desperate hour, the president blames the American people, saying last week they had ‘gotten a little soft.’

“For his part, Christie understands the essence of the job as well as anyone can who has never held it. When he speaks about that level of leadership, he’s in his comfort zone. He’s not stretching for grand visions or trying to paint pretty word pictures. It’s action now, action later.

“The result is a compelling public official who is the new face of hope and change.”

“I’ve heard the arguments that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not conservative enough, but try telling that to the people in the room at the Reagan Library last Tuesday. At the podium that night was a man who in less than two short years has exhibited strength and leadership skills conspicuously absent in the wake of a generation of pervasive political correctness. Big Labor bosses Richard Trumka and Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama, are the bullies on this playground. More than anyone in the country, Gov. Christie has stood his ground in the face of their thuggery and refused to hand over his lunch money.

“I didn’t get the sense that he was playing games when he said he was not intending to run for the presidency, and I take him at his word, but I’m glad that I got to see in person the temperament and resolve that the actual GOP nominee must have if President Obama is to be defeated. After the bullies have been restrained, there is still the matter of restoring order in the school yard. The rank-and-file union members, who have been used and abused by a corrupt leadership, must be brought back into the fold. Reagan’s big tent was defined largely by its appeal to union members, but today’s GOP has lost its nerve to reach out to this critical constituency…

“One woman in the audience spoke for many in the room, myself included, when she pleaded with the self-effacing governor to rethink his decision. We are a nation that desperately needs someone like Christie, someone ready, willing and able to roll up his sleeves, man up and go after the bullies on the playground.”

Via Think Progress.

Skip to 3:20.