Christie has long said he won't run in 2012. But those close to the first-term governor, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, say he is rethinking his hard stance.
Calls have been intensifying from top GOP donors and party elders for Christie to jump into the race. President Barack Obama's weak approval ratings and a Republican field that has been struggling to put forward a clear front-runner are also creating an opening for Christie.
A decision will have to come fast. Filing deadlines in primary states are weeks away.
New Jersey's pugnacious governor has been asked about his presidential aspirations practically since taking the oath of office in January 2010. But until this week, he has swatted down the idea repeatedly, consistently and colorfully.
He said he wouldn't run because he wasn't ready, because his wife wouldn't let him and because "I'm not crazy, that's why." A more famous reply came about a year ago when he said that "short of suicide" he wasn't sure what he could say to convince people that he's not running.
But after a whirlwind week campaigning and fundraising in Missouri, Louisiana and California, which included a speech on Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in which the characteristically blunt Christie repeatedly criticized Obama, Christie started to dial back his denials -- he stopped saying he wasn't ready to be president and started referring reporters to previous statements.
"If you're looking for leadership in America you're not going to find it in the Oval Office," Christie said this week at a rally in Louisiana.
The trip was a clear success for him, advisers said.
Christie's longtime friend, former law partner and adviser Bill Palatucci was along for the trip and said it was inspiring.
"Many, many well-wishers who know the governor's record and are congratulating him on his record in office. Everyone from hotel staff, airport workers and those who attend the events responding that they know him and like his message," Palatucci.
Nancy Reagan also encouraged Christie to run when she attended his speech and months ago former first lady Barbara Bush made a call to Christie's wife, Mary Pat, to encourage her to think about a presidential campaign.
A large part of Christie's hesitation to run has been his family. He has four children, ages 18 to 8. At a Sept. 22 event with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was also courted but said no to a 2012 bid, Christie said it just wasn't the right time for him.
"It got to be something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do, but I think what you must do at that time in your life both for you and for your country," Christie, 49, said. "And for me, the answer to that is that it isn't."