Chris Christie: I know I could win the presidency in 2012 - if I wanted to

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he is confident he could win the 2012 presidential election if he wanted to - but that he doesn't feel in his heart that he is ready for the task.

"I already know I could win," Christie said of the presidency, in an interview with the National Review published Tuesday night. "That's not the issue."

"I have people calling me and saying to me, 'Let me explain to you how you could win.' And I'm like, 'You're barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win,'" he said. "That's not the issue. The issue is not me sitting here and saying, 'Geez, it might be too hard. I don't think I can win.' I see the opportunity both at the primary level and at the general election level. I see the opportunity."

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"So, I see the opportunity, I recognize and understand it and I'm really flattered that people think of me that way," Christie continued. "But, if I don't believe it in here [pointing to his heart], I'm not going to be a good candidate on top of everything else."

Christie, who was elected New Jersey governor in November 2009, has quickly earned prominence in the Republican party for his brash, unapologetic style of governing and his willingness to tackle New Jersey's troubled economy through a series of budget-slashing measures. (He has also been defiant about taking on public-sector unions in the state, calling for drastic cuts to their pension and health care benefits as a means by which to rein in the New Jersey budget.)

Christie has repeatedly denied interest in running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, however, despite the fact that he is constantly fielding questions about the matter.

"Believe me, I've been interested in politics my whole life," Christie told the National Review. "I see the opportunity. But I just don't believe that's why you run."

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"I've got to believe I'm ready to be president, and I don't," he continued. "And I think that that's the basis you have to make that decision. I think when you have people who make the decision just based upon seeing the opportunity you have a much greater likelihood that you're going to have a president who is not ready. And then we all suffer from that."

The controversial New Jersey lawyer also emphasized that he was still learning how to be governor.

"I just see how much better I get at this job every day, and I do, and I learn things. If not every day, at least every week," he said.

"When I walked into the Governor's office last January there have been some difficult days in the job," Christie said, but added that "There has never been a day where I've felt like I'm over my head, I don't know what to do, I'm lost. I don't know whether I'd feel the same way if I walked into the Oval Office a year and a half from now."

"Unless you get yourself to the point where you really believe you have a shot to be successful, then I don't think you have any business running for [the presidency]," he continued.